Leonard Ncube , Victoria Falls Reporter
JOURNALISTS have been challenged to counter fake news that have become prevalent on some social media platforms.
The call comes amid concerns about the spread of fake information on social media, especially around the global Covid-19 pandemic and negativity concerning vaccines.
Speaking at a virtual hub conference 2021 under the theme: “Infodemic: Fighting fake news during pandemic” media trainers from local and international journalism schools implored journalists to strive to provide accurate and factual information so that there is no information vacuum.
They said community newspapers and radio stations could play a key role in filling the gap.
Senior lecturer at the Midlands State University’s department of media Dr Lyton Ncube said the prevalence of fake news is a result of an information vacuum in the mainstream media.
He called for partnerships between journalism training schools and the industry.
“We need to emphasise the issue of Africanness and Ubuntu because the pandemic is affecting both our society and the global community. Perhaps fake news is a result of creation of an information vacuum and journalists should be reminded about the importance of providing accurate and up to date information as they should get as much information as possible to be informative to the society,” he said.
Dr Ncube said there is need for the media industry to partner with journalism training schools especially in reviewing the journalism curriculum to uphold ethics which sacrosanct.
A Zimbabwean Professor Admire Mare who is acting head of the communication department at University of Namibia said community radios can be the answer to fake news in communities.
“Africa should come to the party in terms of producing its own vaccines. Currently we are caught up in the East-West cold war and countries in the global south are caught in international affairs politics because we don’t have our own medicines. This diplomacy has also entered the newsrooms. Journalists should move away from elementary journalism and interrogate statistics,” he said.
Foreign policy expert Ms Pearl Matibe said to provide accurate information, journalists should research about vaccines and the pandemic.
“There is trust deficit because of fake news and we need to scale up. It’s very important that journalists are given space to dig deeper so they give people usable information,” she said. — @ncubeleon