Human Rights Reporting & Fact-checking: Over 25 Online Journalists, Bloggers Better Equipped

In a three-day workshop jointly organized by the United Nations Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, the United Nations Development Programme, and in partnership with the Cameroon Bloggers Association, online media practitioners and bloggers were trained.

The three-day training workshop that took over 25 online journalists and bloggers to Cameroon’s south regional town in Ebolowa, from February 27 to 29, 2024, was a blend of theories and practical exercises.

Bloggers and online journalists who were at the heart of this training workshop, the first of its kind organized by the United Nations Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa and the United Nations Development Programme, have been upskilled on some basics of human rights laws; appropriate terminologies to be used in reports; responsible reporting and how to fact-check stories linked to human rights.

Mastering Human Rights Reporting

The training workshop officially launched by the Representative of the Mayor of Ebolowa was aimed at strengthening and building the capacities of bloggers and online journalists on fact-checking and human rights reporting.

Before diving into the subject matter, the different participants who are online journalists and bloggers from across Cameroon’s ten regions, were granted some key notions on Human rights with a general introduction to the Universal Declaration, the United Nations Charter, and the United Nations General Assembly.

The presentation delivered by Sanaa Makanga, Human Rights Officer at UNCHRD-CA permitted the various participants to have an overview of the different thematic.

Also, to properly address human rights issues, participants were drilled on its correlation with the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Ariel Afana, national economist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) explained the importance of SDGs in Human Rights reporting.

He said the achievement of SDGs by 2030 is critical as over 90% of targets overlap with human rights obligations in the normative framework and with a human rights-based approach stating no one is left behind in development progress.

In the session dedicated to human rights terminology which was led by Fonyuy Kiven Timothy, Human Rights Officer at UNCHRD-CA, several notions were outlined.

Online Journalists and bloggers were plunged into human rights reporting with jargon appropriate for their write-ups. They were equally given hints on how to avoid being entangled in court issues that could emanate from their articles or reports.

One key activity undertaken on day one of this training workshop was that of reflecting on the social status of everyone, going by the fact that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…” as stated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration.

They were put on starting blocks through an exercise dubbed: “the power walk” They were able to assess the rights, opportunities, and privileges offered to various groups in the society.

Apart from the aforementioned topics presented, journalists and bloggers brainstormed on effective and efficient communication strategies to be set in motion to promote human rights.

Added to the notions acquired during the different sessions, participants who worked in groups were able to exchange and share best practices in case studies highlighted in the course of practical exercises.

On the agenda of the training, there was a module on fact-checking. This in-depth session was conducted by Armelle Sitchoma Tamba who is a journalist, blogger, and trainer in fact-checking.

Armelle Sitchoma shared with her peers some important techniques that are used to fact-check stories that trend online or on social networks.

In the Human rights reporting sphere, she emphasized on the necessity to fact-check information, a video, or a photo before sharing or posting it.

Participants better equipped

Speaking to media practitioners at the closing session, Thierry Didier Kuicheu, newly elected president of the Cameroon Bloggers Association praised the initiative which to him has upskilled online journalists and bloggers who are nowadays key actors in the digital world.

Thierry Didier Kuicheu, president of ABC

He said this workshop laid the foundations for a fruitful partnership between UNCHRD-CA, UNDP, the entire United Nations system, and government institutions that strive for the promotion of human rights.

As media actors, they underscore the need to build a strong team and network that will efficiently collaborate with UNCHRD-DA, UNDP, and other institutional bodies that advocate for human rights in Cameroon and abroad.

Human Rights Officer at UNCHRD-CA said the over 25 online journalists and bloggers gathered in Ebolowa have received rudiments in human rights reporting and are expected to act as champions in the media landscape.

Mr. Fonyuy Kiven said: “We are shifting gradually to digital space where lots of things are done online and where people search more online news than on classic papers and other classic media outlets. Also, bloggers and online journalists are becoming the center of attraction. Meaning they cannot be left behind when it comes to Human Rights promotion and protection, when it comes to development reporting, or when it comes to humanitarian reporting. So, we organized these three-day training to strengthen the capacities of bloggers and online journalists on fact-checking and reporting on human rights, and there is also a focus on development reporting and humanitarian reporting which means that we are trying to build a core group of online journalists and bloggers who master human rights, who master development reporting especially about sustainable development goals…”

Fonyuy Kiven Timothy, Human Rights Officer at UNCHRD-CA

He went further to call on the new cohort of trained journalists and bloggers to put into practice all the teachings acquired.

“We want to see that what we have done here is put into practice and it is not about doing the training but it is about putting the training and knowledge that is acquired to practice. This means that we are expecting, the over 25 journalists and bloggers who have taken part in this training to effectively implement what has been discussed here, and through their respective blogs show that there is an interest in raising awareness across the board on human rights issues. They can specialize, they can decide to be general but the underlying fact is that they focus on human rights. They use the approach that we have discussed during this training to make sure that information is diffused in, accessible and comprehensible formats without in any way shocking listeners, viewers, or readers.” Fonyuy Kiven Timothy explained.

At the end of the three-day training workshop, participants expressed satisfaction with the knowledge and new notions acquired. They were granted end-of-course certificates and gadgets by the trainers.

Elise Kenimbeni

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