The training focused on topics such as: understanding media and information literacy and its relevance to democracy and good governance; functions of media and other information providers; understand news, media and information ethics, and the relationship between journalism and society.
Verification and verification of facts; how to analyze the medium and the message; review sponsored and non-sponsored media messages and their purposes; and the nature and characteristics of traditional and new media were also key elements of the capacity building workshop.
Tobi Oluwatola, acting executive director of the Premium Times Centre, stressed that the training was designed to meet the needs of enabling media users to access and use information with caution.
At the end of the three days, one of the young leaders, Joe Bongay, a member of the Young Volunteers for the Environment, noted that media and information literacy issues were not taken into account by many many youth organizations due to a lack of knowledge about its importance.
“I have now realized that Media and Information Literacy is very important and this training could not have come at a better time than now as The Gambia heads to the polls for the Presidential election in a few We all know that usually the whole of Gambia is on Facebook and everyone is a journalist spreading all kinds of information. But this training has helped us to know how to evaluate and scrutinize the information we consume and to be able to expose fake news. The spread of fake news breeds violence, we have seen examples of this in other countries.” Joe Bongay, member of the Young Volunteers for the Environment.
For Omar Bah, a member of the National Youth Council, one thing that stands out from the training is the importance of fact-checking.
“As the presidential election approaches, people are peddling all kinds of information to misinform the public. And as a young activist, if you’re naive, you might spread that information more without knowing it. Verification and verification of facts are therefore essential and important for young people and advocates.” Omar Bah, member of the National Youth Council
Mansey Jabang of Youth Empowerment Africa said she now has a better understanding of the role of media and journalists in society.
The training led her to change a vow she had made to herself.
“I promised myself never to speak to any journalist or give them information, but I have changed that position now because I better understand the role of the media and how journalists collect information. I know journalists rely on the information we give them, so if we don’t all want to talk to them, there won’t be any news. So the question we should all be asking now is “what can we do to provide journalists with the information they need,” she said.
Like Mansey, Omar Saibou Camara of the Fact Check Center also discovered the media and their impact on public space.
“I generally learned about media and society and how society affects media, also how media affects society. I also learned how media can be used as a tool to strengthen democracy, access to information,” he said.
Mbye Mballow of Gambia Peace Ambassadors promised to work with his team to ensure that MIL issues are mainstreamed into the organisation’s communication strategy and outreach programmes.
Lead trainer, Caroline Anipah, Program Officer at the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), said the media and news ecosystem continues to evolve and therefore media users must also evolve to face many new challenges.
Ms. Anipah said the three-day training was engaging and participants were receptive.
“I hope the learning doesn’t stop when the training ends and the participants seek out more information about MIL,” she said. “I hope that with elections on the horizon, they can access, evaluate, and engage ethically with media content so they don’t find themselves contributing to the threat of ‘fake news.’ “. Caroline Anipah, Program Officer at the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism.
Ndumbeh Saho, Director of the Coordination Unit of the Department of Strategic Policy and Implementation of the Office of the President, commended the young people for their enthusiasm for media and information literacy as an instrument of peace.
“I am really proud that we have very dynamic young people who think about peace and who have seen that authentic and accurate information is a vehicle for peacebuilding,” she said.
The three-day training was organized as part of the UNESCO component of the Peacebuilding Fund project titled “Young Women and Men as Stakeholders in Ensuring Peaceful Democratic Processes and Defenders of prevention of violence and hate speech”.
The two-year project is implemented by a consortium made up of UNESCO, UNDP and UNFPA in partnership with local implementing partners. It aims to overcome institutional barriers for young people, build the capacity of young people to engage and participate in governance and leadership, tackle hate speech and counter youth fake news and misinformation through through the media and local community structures.
Media and Information Literacy training should adequately equip young people with an acceptable degree of skills to assess, understand and critique media content in order to know what is fake from real and be able to tell the difference between paid media propaganda and news content.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
© Press Release 2021