KAS-PTCIJ-Debunk Exchange Programme

The First of Its Kind

In 2021, KAS Media Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa, came together with Debunk Media, Nairobi, Kenya and the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) in Abuja, Nigeria to create a continental exchange programme for journalists. The first edition of this programme immersed two journalists, Maxine Danso from Ghana, and Lilian Mutinda from Kenya, in the newsrooms and culture of their hosts for a month respectively.
Lilian Mutinda at Museum
Lilian Mutinda at Museum

Inspired by the Entrepreneurial Journalism conference held in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, in November 2020, a three-way collaboration between KAS Media Africa, Debunk Media and the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism birthed a continental exchange programme for journalists. The first exchange took place over July and August 2021. The aim of the programme is to help build bridges of understanding between journalists from different countries, and encourage sharing of knowledge and skills across newsrooms.

Dubawa - Nigeria’s first indigenous independent verification and fact-checking project, initiated by PTCIJ to help amplify the culture of truth in public discourse and journalistic practice, hosted Lilian Mutinda from Debunk Media in Nairobi, Kenya. For the next month, Mutinda, a writer and search engine optimisation (SEO) expert (the process used to help make a website easier to find in search engines), underwent a crash course in how the West-Africans conduct their fact-checking - a critical aspect of journalism. The experience altered her writing style and convinced her of the importance of fighting misinformation, particularly in the era of online media. When she left Abuja, she had published two Fact Checks and was eager to set up a fact-checking desk at Debunk. “With Kenya's election coming up in 2022, the new skills will come in handy,” observes Mutinda.

The colleagues in Kenya hosted Maxine Danso, a Ghanaian fact-checking senior researcher who does work for Dubawa in Accra. During her thirty-day stint, she produced two videos - one on explaining the Covid-19 Delta variant, and another on debunking the myth that vaccination negatively affects fertility. She left with a new found appreciation for the work that goes into digital content creation. Maxine learnt to communicate critical information in a factual, yet easy and coherent way. “Writing at Debunk allowed more for my creative juices, which had gone stale for a long time, to flow,” says Danso.

The first exchange has been successful and indicates that there is room on the continent for newsrooms to enrich each other through concerted collaboration.