FactSpace West Africa with support from the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has trained 25 journalists in Sierra Leone in fact-checking, news verification and effective ways of countering misinformation/disinformation campaigns.

The journalists who were drawn from 10 newsrooms (print, radio, TV and online) are expected to serve as in-house fact-checkers for their various media houses and work collectively under the Sierra Leone Fact-Checking Network ahead of the country’s general elections in 2023.

“We’re concerned about how misinformation can easily find its way onto community radio stations especially ahead of the elections,” Spokesperson of the Ministry of Information and Communication Emmanuel Toure said in his address to journalists before the start of the training programme.

According to the government, the violent protests and riots that broke out in Sierra Leone in August 2022, should serve as a wake-up call for journalists to duly verify any information before publication on mainstream media.

Also speaking at the opening, the Public Affairs Officer of the United States Embassy in Sierra Leone, Sara Van Horne said: “My country, as well as yours, have suffered from misinformation that have real-life consequences”

According to her, the risk of just forwarding a message on social media or republishing press statements without fact-checking is that the message could be misinformation or disinformation.

“We’re confident journalists will play their roles well by reporting accurately and fact-checking viral claims,” President of  Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid assured.

The workshop had two on-ground facilitators, including the Director of FactSpace West Africa, Rabiu Alhassan and the Community and Impact Manager at the International Fact-checking Network (IFCN), Enock Nyariki.

Other trainers that connected virtually included Eric Mugendi of Meedan/ Check Global and Peter Cunliffe Jones, founder of Africa Check.

In June 2022, FactSpace West Africa with support from the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) trained about 30 electoral commission officials from The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone to be more responsive to emerging online threats and risks.


By: FactSpace WA