Three Nigerian news entries are among the only eight that made the final shortlist of the inaugural Africa Fact-Checking Awards, according to a statement from the organisers, Africa Check and the AFP Foundation.
Two of the three entries were written by PREMIUM TIMES reporters.
The Africa Fact-Checking Awards, which seeks to honour the best pieces of investigative fact-checking work across Africa each year, parades a block-buster row of sponsors which includes Google, Omidyar Network, the Open Society Institute, the AFP foundation, the Wits University in South Africa and the Africa News Innovation Network.
PREMIUM TIMES, Nigeria’s leading multimedia content producers, is the only African media house to have two of its entries make the final shortlist.
The stories are Ini Ekott’s, “Nigerian Senate’s resolution on Imo based on rumours; no evidence state planned IDs for Northerners,” and Musikilu Mojeed’s “Aviation Minister Stella Oduah in fresh fake doctorate scandal / American education dept, university confirm Stella Oduah’s honorary Ph.D is fake”.
Mr. Ekott, a physicist turned journalist, is acting head of PREMIUM TIMES investigations unit, while Mr. Mojeed is the paper’s managing editor.
The only other Nigerian story to make the final list is “Reopening Jonathan’s Bag of Many Promises / Jonathan’s N.163trn Road Projects Await Completion” by the Sunday Trust based in Abuja. Theophilus Abbah, editor of the paper, and two of his reporters jointly wrote the story.
Organisers of the award said an independent jury of eminent European and African journalists will now consider the final shortlist of eight entries and the winner and two runners up will be announced at a Forum on Media Strategies due to take place in Nairobi in mid-November.
“Checking the accuracy of what public figures say, and not simply parroting their words, is a fundamental of good journalism, said Emmanuel Hoog, Chairman of the AFP Foundation and CEO of its parent organisation, the AFP news agency, adding that “It is also essential for democracies to function properly, that claims made in the public domain be held up to scrutiny and checked openly and impartially.
Mr. Hogg explained that while this is not always easy for journalists, given the reality of working to a 24-hour news cycle, that “is why it is important to honour those who do this vital work, taking the claims that public figures make, and checking the evidence which supports, as well as that which undermines, them.”
Commenting, Eric Chinje, CEO of the African Media Initiative (AMI), a board member of Africa Check, and chair of the judges, explained the importance of fact-checking in journalism.
“Media has a critical role to play in Africa’s emergence and the credibility of the media message is fundamental to that role. This demands fairness, balance and factual reporting. At the heart of it all is that all-important but often challenging ‘fact-checking’,” he said.
More than 40 entries vied for this award from journalists in 10 countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The other finalists are Phillip de Wet of the Mail & Guardian (South Africa) who wrote “In this microcosm of South Africa, President Zuma’s words ring false,” and Tunusian journalist Med Dhia Hammami of nawaat.org who wrote “Enquête sur le gaz de schiste en Tunisie: des profondeurs du sous-sol tunisien aux paradis fiscal !”
The others are Paul Shalala of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation who produced “The impact of Multi-National Mining Investment on Food Security in Zambia” an article and accompanying video) as well as the team of Edem Stem, Gifty Andoh Appiah, Nicolas Atta Addo, Ebenezer Tagoe and Eric Agbalekpor from the Ghana Multtvworld.com site who produced “Trading Ghana’s Water for Gold”