Ambassador Vens and President Nasralla
The European Union (EU) and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), will today kick-start a nationwide radio and television programme specifically aimed at addressing fake news and misinformation around COVID-19 circulating on social media and messaging platforms.
The radio and TV show will be broadcast twice weekly on Wednesdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 12pm through the Independent Radio Network (IRN) and will also be live streamed on the main TV stations and EU/SLAJ/IRN Facebook platforms.
The EU considers this strategic partnership with SLAJ/IRN more important than ever to support the crucial role the media plays in providing the public with accurate and factual information during the current COVID-19 crisis and to increase social media literacy and responsible communication amongst the public.
The programme will further support the National Response Plan pillar for communication and social mobilisation by relaying official COVID-19 updates, guidelines and practical advice to the audience.
Following the signature, EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone Tom Vens said: “Disinformation and fake news in times of the coronavirus can kill. In today’s technology-driven world, we have a duty to protect our citizens by making them aware of false information. To fight disinformation, we need to mobilise all relevant players and support independent fact checkers and media. Through this dedicated radio and television programme and partnership with SLAJ, the EU once again reaffirms its commitment to supporting the Government and People of Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19.”
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said: “Fake news and misinformation are a clear and present danger not only to the fight against COVID-19 but also to the peace and security of the nation. The European Union is therefore concretely contributing to the general good of the country by supporting SLAJ to fight against fake news and for this we wholeheartedly commend them.”
Some of the concrete actions that will be implemented by SLAJ through the programme are: to identify, fact check and debunk main false narratives on COVID-19; to involve a large spectrum of stakeholders and opinion makers in the debate: journalists, government officials, political parties, medical practitioners, civil society, youth representatives, bloggers, opinion makers and multipliers active on social media; to seek the active involvement of and feedback from the public; to disseminate myth busters, infographics and educational videos on social media; to run a “Fake News not in My Name” campaign through the voice of several social media ambassadors.