Supporting African news organisations who are advancing media literacy

Today, 72% of people surveyed in Kenya and Nigeria express concern about being exposed to false and misleading information. The interconnectedness of the spread of news and information today calls for each of us to play a role in advocating for media literacy.

Our work at Google supports both journalists and fact-checking organisations who are doing the work to fight misinformation, and we help to create products and tools to help news consumers around the world better understand what they are seeing online.

Today, we’re rolling out additional initiatives through the Google News Initiative (GNI) that will help African journalists and publishers to navigate the challenges and opportunities of changing news habits.

Product Innovation
Google is at its heart a technology company. We’ve invested in product features to support the fight against the spread of misinformation online and to advance media literacy. One example is About this Result, a feature in Search which provides critical context on a result before you visit the page, including how widely a source is circulated, whether a company is owned by another entity - all pieces of information that can provide important context.

In Africa, we’re working with media lab Fathm (our partners in the UK) and publishers The Daily Maverick (South Africa), Premium Times (Nigeria) and The Standard Group (Kenya) to trial an entirely new way of delivering news to people across the continent. This pilot of ‘direct publishing’ will help innovative news outlets create interactive stories combining images, video and text and publishing them directly to users within the Android Messages app. The trial uses Android’s Rich Communication Service (RCS) to deliver news in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

"Direct publishing is an exciting prospect that has the opportunity to enhance our brand of journalism,” said Styli Charalambous, CEO & Co-Founder of the Daily Maverick. “Digital offerings that go beyond passive consumption have the potential to elevate the service of journalism and attract new audiences. This project is innovative, with the potential to augment our offering and deliver on our mission. We jumped at the chance when asked."

Fact Checking
Africa Check was the first independent fact-checking organization established on the continent, and with support from Google they were able to both scale their training efforts across eastern Africa and help strengthen the local fact checking ecosystem. Africa Check will begin hosting ‘train the trainers’ fact-checking workshops, designed to improve the quality of information relied upon by millions of news consumers in Eastern Africa.

"We train and mentor journalists in fact-checking to ensure that information shared with the wider public is accurate and verified,” said Dudu Mkhize, Head of Outreach at Africa Check. “Google will support our train-the-trainer programme to ensure that we have more trainers to train journalists across Africa, which will strengthen the information ecosystem on the continent as more journalists have the necessary skill to fact-check their reports."

The trainers from this program will go on to support journalists working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola, providing guidance on fact checking, verification tools and techniques.

Additionally, equipping journalists with the digital skills to find, verify and tell news stories online is critical. That’s why Dubawa will train 500 journalists in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia with support from the GNI. The workshops will focus on equipping journalists with the digital skills to find, verify and tell news stories online.

“Our mission at CJID and Dubawa is to enable a West African media that promotes democratic accountability for sustainable development,” said Dr. Tobi Oluwatola, Executive Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID). “We're excited that this partnership allows us to scale our fact checking and digital literacy capacity building to benefit hundreds of journalists across Anglophone West Africa.”

Fact checking is critical even as information becomes more accessible globally. By supporting the ‘Africa Facts’ conference to be held in November in Nairobi, we want to help connect ideas and expert practitioners, and further strengthen fact checking across the continent.

These new initiatives build on the media literacy training programme, WebRangers, that we facilitate with Media Monitoring Africa, focused on training teens in South Africa on how to identify and report misinformation.

We believe the future of news across Africa is bright and support for it is critical. We are eager to continue finding ways to connect people to relevant and quality news across the region.

Posted by Dorothy Ooko, 
Head of Communications & Public Affairs, Google, Africa