The Stage Media, with funding from the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), completed a four-day fact-checking masterclass for 40 students from Margibi and Montserrado counties.
The project, which is a yearly activity of the institution, is intended to help combat misinformation and deception in Liberia.
The training was a two-part series hosted at the Orange-Digital Center in Congo Town.
The fellows were trained by experienced fact-checkers with topics including the importance of fact-checking, making sense of false information, Tips for spotting incorrect information online (including social media platforms) Online tools for image and video verification, Fact-Checking and Journalism ethics Why is podcasting important for Fact-checking? Among others.
Trainers were drawn from Liberia, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Fact-checking being a new phenomenon in Liberia, all of the participants had no prior expertise or comprehension, thus making it unique and unfamiliar to some, while it was a life-changing experience for others.
Trust Trica Tutu, speaking on behalf of senior secondary students, praised The Stage Media and the facilitators for providing them with the opportunity to learn about fact-checking firsthand.
“Their teachings were overwhelming and impactful. I guess everyone, including myself, learned something important today,” Tutu said.
“First of all, I want to take this time to appreciate The Stage Media Team for building up my capacity to identify information that is false or true,” King Mitchell Joe of Blue Christ University said.
“On behalf of all the participants of the first Facts-Checking Fellowship Liberia, I am delighted to say to The Stage Media team that we are grateful for the knowledge given to us on a silver platter,” said Mama Prestige.
Prestige furthered: “There were too many things that were learned and we can proudly say to you all that we came out better than the way we went in. Now that we have an idea of fact-checking, we won’t see ourselves sharing information that is not verified.”
Zaza Mulbah, Senior manager at Orange Liberia, challenged the attendees to seize the opportunity since there are many resources available.
“Don’t allow this to be your first and last. There are other programs you can take advantage of on social media,” said Mulbah.
The Stage Media is Liberia’s first fact-checking institution, founded in 2020 with the sole purpose of combating misinformation and disinformation in Liberia.
The institution has fostered partnerships that support the value of combating misinformation and disinformation, bringing to life untold stories of survivors of rape or war, and holding the powerful and elite accountable.
Hannah Geterminah, co-partner of TSM, told participants that the fellowship is designed to detect information that is either true or false, depending on what information has a more significant impact on society.
“We have all shared incorrect information, and this training is intended to provide you, our young generation, with fact-checking skills,” Madam Geterminah said.
She added, “You are our first fellows from the university level because we have already trained senior secondary students, and I want you to understand that this training is crucial because disinformation and misinformation spread faster, contributing to false information manipulation and making you make the wrong decision.”
According to Hannah, the goal of the training is to instill a sense of integrity and accountability, promote honesty and ethical behaviour, and create a more informed, knowledgeable, and trustworthy generation in Liberia.