Video journalist Edem Srem and his team from MultiTvWorld in Ghana on November 14th won the first-ever African Fact-Checking Awards, honouring journalism in Africa that exposes misleading claims by public figures.
The awards, launched in 2014 by the AFP Foundation and its African fact-checking project, Africa Check, are the first of their kind and aimed at promoting a new and important form of journalism on the continent.
More than 40 journalists from 10 countries across Africa — Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe — submitted entries for the award.
The winning entry, “Trading Ghana’s water for gold”, is a hard-hitting video report that exposed misleading claims by the government in Ghana to have eradicated the risky practice of alluvial gold mining in the west African country.
The two joint runners up were Paul Shalala of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, for a report on false claims made about the impact of multi-national mining investment on food security in his country, and Victor Amadala of the website kenyakidz.com for a report debunking a superstition that leads parents to have the teeth of newborn babies removed.
The winning team will receive a total of €2,000 ($2,500) in prize money while each runner up will receive €1,000.
“I think there is nothing more important in journalism than holding people to account for the promises and the claims they make,” Srem said.
“I am very honoured, on behalf of myself and my team to win this award for that work.”
The chairman of the AFP Foundation, Emmanuel Hoog, said in a statement: “By taking claims made by public figures, and by checking them rigorously and impartially, these African reporters and editors are defending the best values of journalism. They are also helping to promote openness and transparency in public affairs.”
The winners were selected by a jury of prominent media figures chaired by Eric Chinje, the chief executive of African Media Initiative, a body bringing together leaders of hundreds of African media organisations.
The AFP Foundation, the non-profit media training arm of AFP news agency, in October 2012 launched the continent’s first independent fact-checking project, the website africacheck.org, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a partnership with the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand.
It has since published hundreds of reports on topics from fake claims of health cures, to exposes of misleading statements about water quality on the continent and the effect of gun control legislation on murder rates.