Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – The Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA) on Tuesday organized a virtual workshop in French for staffers of news agencies, radio stations, TV channels, newspapers and electronic platforms in African countries, and media professionals of the French departments in the OIC countries, on “Methods of fact-checking news and fighting rumors (COVID-19 crisis)”.
More than 110 media professionals from 29 countries participated in the workshop that was administered by Dr. Sadok El-Hamami, Associate Professor of Media at the Institute of Press and Information Sciences, University of Manouba, Tunisia, a teacher of investigative journalism, in the presence of UNA Assistant Director Zayed Sultan Abdallah.
The workshop, which was held in partnership with the Information Department of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU), was chaired by Amani Haruna, head of the UNA French News Section.
Haruna thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for the unlimited support to the Union. He also expressed appreciation to Acting Saudi Minister of Media, Chairman of the Union Executive Council Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, for his patronage of the First UNA Forum held on 16 May 2020 (23 Ramadan 1441 AH).
Associate Professor Hamami gave an explanation about the methods for fact-checking photos by using Google Image Search, which provides reverse image searching to identify fake photos, in addition to other websites that can help users verify videos. He said it was imperative that journalists turn to their colleagues at the IT section for help with verifying videos before dealing with their contents.
Hamami also highlighted the conditions allowing the emergence and spread of false news, misleading information and rumors, as well as the tools used by false newsmakers to mislead the public opinion. He affirmed that media professionals should be fully aware of their role that they are not only conveyors of information, but also investigators and fact-checkers who vet the information they receive before processing and disseminating it through their media outs to the public.
The associate professor indicated that journalism is a profession based on investigation, and journalists should only convey the information they have thoroughly verified. He insisted that professional and ethical journalism represents the alternative to all false information, and the press reports produced by journalists should always be a good source of reliable information.
He went on to say that the term investigative journalism has begun to be used widely since 2006, and that the some media institutions embarked on establishing specialized departments for investigative journalism to verify the information produced by journalists in the institution, as per an in-house fact-checking methodology.
Hamami explained that during crises, the media should be instructed and informed to play an awareness-raising and explanatory role that depends on reliable and knowledgeable sources, stressing that the media in general has both news explanatory and investigative functions before publishing to the audience.
The participating media professionals were from 29 countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Niger, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal, USA, Benin, Chad, Togo, Bahrain, Mali, Algeria, Switzerland, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Congo, France, Libya, Guinea, Djibouti, Yemen, Brazil, United Kingdom, Philippines, Mauritania, Tunisia, Lebanon, Cote d’Ivoire.