Code for Africa (CfA) set up East Africa's first network of newsroom-based verification desks, structured as an iLAB, to counter the spread of mis- and disinformation.
The project takes a systematic approach – next to newsroom training on verification and the general challenges and impact of mis- and disinformation, it offers consultancy on structural changes in newsroom workflows, on staffing and the introduction of new technologies. These are underpinned by the design of revenue models and monetizable products.
Within the project, a central hub known as the iLAB has been created. It offers support and syndication to the newsroom-based network of fact-checking desks. This support includes forensic investigative research and data analysis, with hands-on mentoring to improve workflows. The syndication includes content sharing between partner newsrooms, plus republishing elsewhere.
The preconditions needed for successful verification in media houses are being met. These include journalistic skills, management that supports and enables new workflows, and a monetizing strategy for the new products.
Two out of four verification desks are currently focussing on COVID-19 related mis- and disinformation. Network member Sky FM is establishing a Health Desk to serve the entire broadcasting association.
The Code for Africa team is developing maps and infographics on virus case numbers and developments in Kenya, which are then distributed by media partners.