The fact-checking organisation used the night to honour Africa-based fact-checking media.

Winners of the Africa Check Fact-Checking Awards at the 15th African Investigative Journalism Conference on Tuesday evening. Image: Sojah Semetjane/Lesole_Snap

By Sanele Msiza

It was a big night for West African journalism at the sixth annual Africa Check Fact-Checking Awards held on Tuesday, October 29 at Wits University in Braamfontein.

The winners and runners-up of the two awards given out all hail from West African countries Nigeria and Senegal.

Nigerian journalist Odinaka Anudu took home the bigger award of the night for Fact-Check Of The Year By A Working Journalist for his investigative work published in Business Day Nigeria, ‘Ongoing projects in South East: Truth vs Lies’.

Anudu received the award in absentia as he was unable to attend the ceremony held on day two of the 2019 African Investigative Journalism Conference.

Investigative journalist Taiwu Adebulu, of the Nigerian independent publication The Cable,  was on hand to receive the award on his behalf.

Fellow Nigerian journalist, Oluwamayowa Tijana from AFP Fact Check Nigeria was the runner-up in the category and was awarded a cash prize of R14 618.

Anudu, who won R29 236, was one of two journalists honoured at the award ceremony.

Student journalist Souleymane Diassy was received the award for the Fact-check Of The Year By A Student for ‘Santé : Kolda a-t-elle le plus grand ratio de mortalité maternelle au Sénégal ?’ (Health: Does Kolda have the highest maternal mortality rate in Senegal?), an article published on his blog.

A student at the Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) journalism school in Dakar, Senegal, Diassy is an avid fact-checker and was joined by Dienyaba Thiombane, a fellow student at CESTI, who was the runner-up of the prestigious award.

Diassy and Thiombane were both awarded R14 618 and R7 309 respectively.

Executive director of Africa Check, Noko Makgato, said fact-checking is a vital element of journalism in Africa because “we operate in countries where information is not freely available. When it is available, it is of a questionable quality prone to influence the citizenry.

We need citizens to be recipients of verified, quality information so they can make informed decisions about their lives,” he said.

Makgato added, “The objective of the awards is to encourage journalists to engage in fact-checking, a sorely needed key element of journalism missing in Africa.

We are hoping to develop this further with more journalists taking fact-checking up as a vocation,” he said.

Associate professor at the University of Mauritius, Roukaya Kassenally, who headed the awards’ judging panel said the judges sought groundbreaking work which does not always make the headlines.

“We were looking for stories that matter and touched lives; stories that had an in-depth analysis where the journalist used a gamut of techniques to dig through the information to get the story,” she said.

Kassenally who is also the CEO of the Africa Media Initiative, noted the growing output of fact-checking from French-speaking countries.

“The spread of the submissions from both anglophone and francophone countries shows fact-checking cuts across the continent as a fundamental technique,” she added.

FEATURED IMAGE: Tonight’s winners proudly take the stage as they receive their awards. Photo: Lesole Semetjane/ Lesole_Snap.

This article was first published on Wits Vuvuzela