The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) on Tuesday launched the Ghana chapter of the DUBAWA initiative, an independent verification and fact-checking platform to help amplify the culture of truth in public discourse and journalistic practice.
The launch of “DUBAWA” a Hausa word meaning, “To Verify,” was on the theme: “Stemming Misinformation to Advance Democracy and Good Governance in Ghana.”
Ms Josephine Nkrumah, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), who chaired the launch, said one’s ability to separate facts from rumours had become an arduous task in recent times.
She said freedom of the media had provided fertile grounds for many politicians to own media houses or what she termed a “propaganda machinery,” resulting in growing increase in reckless journalism devoid of objectivity, which served daily doses of misinformation or disinformation to the public.
She said these difficulties had distorted accuracy and led to a polarised community which undermined policy formulations and created a trust deficit between the citizenry on one hand and governance structures on the other.
Ms Nkrumah said some citizens ended up disengaging when they could not decipher truth and accuracy from the array of propaganda being circulated.
She said while some relied heavily on media reportage without any discernment or skills for information literacy, another group used the opportunity to reinforce their own polarised view.
Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, the Founder and Executive Director of the PTCIJ, said Ghana was the leading representation of media freedom in Africa, as such, it was important to bring such an initiative into the country.
He expressed the optimism that Ghana would be a fertile ground for the platform to thrive and achieve its desired results.
Mr Fidelis Yayra Sesenu, a Lecturer at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, presenting research findings on the current pattern of information consumption in Ghana, said social media influencers were key players in the spread of misinformation.
Misinformation is where false information is shared without necessarily intending to cause harm, which occurs when media people drop their ethical and professional guards when reporting.
He recommended the integration of information, media and news media literacy into educational curricula for easy identification of fake news at the early stages, and that political leaders who frequently used deception and misinformation to gain influence must be denounced and discouraged.