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There’s no better time to worry about fake news than now –Okere

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FORMER zonal Director, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), South East Zone and project trainer, Ken Ike Okere has decried circulation of fake news in society.

   Sir Okere stated this during a one-day certificate training on fact checking and countering misinformation organised by West Africa Broadcast and Media Academy (WABMA), Enugu Literacy Society ( ELS) with major support from American Consulate General, Lagos, a branch of United States Embassy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

Speaking on the programme tagged, “Project Fact Check Nigeria”, Okere,  while enlightening the participants on various ways to spot fake stories, including photographs, videos and the need to always xray news feed, before sharing to people, noted that promoters of fake news and misinformation merge a bit of truth to make it convincing to the public.

According to him, there is no time better than now to worry about the state of media. The trust and credibility that people have in the media is dwindling as a result of dissemination of fake news and misinformation by citizens and journalists alike.

“Fake news thrives when the public decides to feed on them rather than checkmate the information disseminated. Lack of media literacy and sheer ignorance of the public has increase the proliferation of fake news reports. Many of us consume media without checking the credibility. Without any doubts, we simply internalise and share any news or information that comes our way, ” he said.

Continuing, the chief speaker in the in-depth practical and interactive training, explained ways to verify the credibility of information and debunk fake news, which included checking the source, reading beyond headlines, knowing the author, date of publication, using fact checking tools and consulting expert in the field. He further encouraged for the campaign to fact check news feed and minimise media ignorance among the public.

 According to the United States Mission Nigeria in their official Facebook handle,promoting media literacy and building the capacity of Nigerian journalists is key, US Mission’s priority geared towards strengthening critical thinking skills, expand digital and media literacy among other objectives across 17 states of Southern Nigeria.

A participant at the event and manager of UNIZIK Bakery, Ilochi Promise, expressed that the project is timely and innovative, especially as the forthcoming 2023 general elections is approaching “Its necessary to fact check news and stop spreading wrong information. This project is timely especially this point in time when fake news has become the order of the day and given the low literacy level of our people. There is need for government and stakeholders to support such programs to help educate and inform the general public”, he stated.

While appreciating the organisers of the event, a social development worker, Queen Nwanyinnaya Chikwendu and a research expert, Ngozi Jacinta Oluoha said that the programme was impactful and the  knowledge shared will help in solidifying truth over lies spread by people.

The programme, which attracted media professionals, students, and personalities from different walks of life, also featured presentation of certificate of participation, give aways in airtime to lucky attendants, and insight on how to study in United States of America, including light refreshments. 

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