By Nkechi Okoronkwo
Rabat – Media experts have charged African news agencies to avoid misinformation or disinformation by fact-checking their reports to ensure adherence to professional ethics.
They gave the charge at the conclusion of the maiden News Directors Forum organised by the Atlantic Federation of African Press Agencies (FAAPA) in Rabat, Morocco.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum with the theme `Newsroom Management Challenges’ brought together news and information directors from 22 of the 24 members of FAAPA.
The experts agreed that Journalism may not be able to combat the preponderance of fake news in the media landscape, which is considered as one the greatest challenges imposed on the profession by the emergence of social networks.
However, they insisted that fact-checking would protect the profession from unscrupulous politicians, and influential citizens across nations who want to misinform people and thereby discredit the media.
In her contribution, Mrs Aicha Akalay, the Publishing Manager, TelQuel Magazine, described fake news as “a vicious tool used by influencers, and politicians’’ among others, not only to misinform but also to disinform readers.
Akalay enjoined news agency managers to always verify the authenticity of statements and statistics provided by politicians and not allow their media to be used to propagate fake news.
She also advised that where false information was published, it must be quickly corrected, stressing that “it can be dangerous to disseminate erroneous information.
“The people who are willing to give false information are much more than those ready to check facts.’’
Akalay, therefore, advised news agencies to deploy resources to fact-checking, noting that it was the current global trend in the media industry.
Mrs Samira Sitail, the Information Director of 2M, a popular electronic media in Morocco, said: “Fact-checking is a way of exercising caution; its necessity has become imperative for those who want to be serious with their work.
“We have to be patient; seek independence from authorities and cross-check information before publication,’’ Sitail said.
In his contribution, Mr Mohamed Douyeb, noted that as long as access to information on social media was not restricted, fake news would continue to thrive.
Douyeb, however, said that it was the responsibility of the media to cross-check facts available as they were the easy target used to spread fake news.
He urged the civil society and other concerned groups to join in the ongoing global effort to combat fake news through enlightenment of the populace on the dangers posed by the challenge imposed by technology. (NAN)