Mohammed Urges Media to Create Fact-checking Desks against Fake News
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has advised media organisations to set up special desks for fact-checking in order to guard against being misled by fake news and misinformation.
He gave the advice in Abuja yesterday when he hosted the editorial board of the Guardian Newspaper on a courtesy visit.
The minister urged media organisations in Nigeria to take his suggestion seriously, noting that establishment of a special desk for fact-checking will curb the problem of fake news and enable the citizens to separate fact from fiction.
He said in the era of fake news and misinformation, the media has a duty to get its facts right and ensure that charlatans and hackers do not dominate the media space, as it is increasingly becoming the case in the country.
Mohammed said: “It is said that for the media to be able to play its role, which is to inform, criticise and stimulate debate, it must take responsibility for whatever it sends out. In other words, it must get its facts right. But can we say today that most of what we read, hear and watch in the news are factual?”
The minister said in the past few days, his office had received appeals from concerned Nigerians asking the federal government to do something to stem the rising wave of fake news and misinformation.
The minister said the issue of fake news and misinformation was not just about the government alone, as some have insinuated, noting that homes have been ruined and that many people have been pushed into depression with fake news and misinformation.
He hailed the Nigerian media, which he said is widely regarded as independent and fearless, saying the government continues to view the media as a strong partner.
In his remarks, the Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja, told the minister that the newspaper is loyal to the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria, and would not yield its platform to those seeking to undermine the country’s unity.