With elections being a crucial part of democracy, journalists play a vital role in ensuring that the public receives accurate and reliable information about the electoral process. However, in the age of social media and the internet, it can be challenging to distinguish between real news and fake news.
In Nigeria, journalists are tasked with covering elections and providing the public with timely and accurate information. However, it is not always easy to separate fact from fiction, especially during the election season, with the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 25th and the Governorship/State houses of assembly poll fixed for March 11th, 2023. Here are 10 quick tips for fact-checking during election coverage that Nigerian journalists can follow to ensure they are providing accurate and reliable information.
Verify the source of the information: Before reporting any information, especially during election coverage, it is important to verify the source. Ensure that the information comes from a reliable and credible source, such as a reputable news organization or an official government website. Avoid sharing information from social media platforms, especially if the source is unknown.
Cross-check with other sources: In addition to verifying the source, cross-check the information with other sources. Multiple sources can help to confirm the accuracy of the information or identify inconsistencies that might suggest that the information is inaccurate.
Relate with INEC as much as you could. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the only body enabled by the laws of Nigeria to announce election results and carry out other major roles in the conduct of elections. Cultivate a relationship with the information managers at the commission and be sure you always reach out to them on phone and by any other means before publishing any information about the election which you are not too sure of.
Check for bias: Ensure that the information you are reporting is unbiased and not influenced by any political affiliation or personal views. It is important to remain objective and provide accurate and reliable information to the public.
Check for context: It is essential to provide context to the information you are reporting. Ensure that the information is not taken out of context or misinterpreted. Context helps the public to understand the meaning and implications of the information being reported.
Cultivate a relationship with the information managers at the commission and be sure you always reach out to them on phone and by any other means before publishing any information
Check for errors: It is important to check for errors, including spelling, grammar, and factual errors, before publishing any information. Even minor errors can significantly impact the accuracy of the information and harm your credibility.
Fact-check statements: During election coverage, it is common for politicians and other public figures to make statements that are inaccurate or misleading. Ensure that all statements are fact-checked before reporting them. This will help to avoid the spread of false information and misinformation.
Be cautious with polls and surveys: During election coverage, polls, and surveys are commonly used to predict the outcome of an election. However, it is important to be cautious with polls and surveys, as they can be influenced by many factors, including sampling methods, bias, and margin of error. Ensure that the polls and surveys you report are conducted by reputable organizations and are based on statistically significant sample size.
Verify images and videos: In the age of social media, images, and videos can be easily manipulated or taken out of context. Ensure that all images and videos you report are verified and authentic. Use reverse image search tools and other verification techniques to confirm the authenticity of the media before reporting it.
Use fact-checking tools: There are several fact-checking tools available online that can help to verify the accuracy of the information being reported. These tools can help to quickly identify misinformation and false information and prevent its spread. Examples of fact-checking tools include FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and Africa Check.
Fact-checking is an essential part of journalism, especially during election coverage. Nigerian journalists should follow these tips to ensure that they provide the public with accurate and reliable information during the election season. By doing so, journalists can help to promote transparency, accountability, and democracy.