“Debunking Misinformation And Disinformation On Covid-19”: Journalists Trained On Conflict Sensitive Reporting
18 September 2021
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By A Correspondent- Journalists here have been urged to use culturally appropriate means of communication as a way of transformation conflict and promoting peace building as the nation battles the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was said during a Conflict Sensitive Reporting training workshop held under the theme Debunking Disinformation on Covid-19 organised by the UNESCO and the European Union for online content creators (Thursday).

Addressing journalists, Richard Chere, a trainer from the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) said because conflict is not entirely negative if it is well managed, the media should package information in a way that helps resolve conflict especially in fragile environment.

He said misinformation and disinformation has ripple effects on the fight against the covid- 19 considering that there is a lot of falsehoods that circulates on social media

“Information, be it the lack of it or abundance of it or the unavailability of relevant and accurate information causes people to fill in the gaps.

How information is packaged can trigger or help resolve conflict in fragile environments.  For example when the media constantly bombards community members on the negative effects of a particular vaccine or when the media publishes information that is not factual about Covid 19.

The social media is now being used to push certain agendas and unverified narratives hence the need for the media to be pro active in releasing verified and factual information.”

Chere said if managed well, through constructive engagement, moving away from adversarial approaches, the outcomes of conflict may be positive as it aids in conflict resolution.

“Communication is a central feature of all conflicts, and interestingly, of all conflict management and conflict transformation strategies.

The media should ensure that its processes are anchored on the principles of inclusivity, humanity, learning, and the long term perspective of peace building.

Communication is important because it is a tool which when used effectively creates a bond between people, communities and nations.”

Speaking at the same training workshop, Zimbabwe Online Content Creators chairperson Toneo Rutsito said there is need for the media to be capacitated and trained on how to tackle disinformation and  misinformation especially on covid-19 related information.

The training workshop was attended by at least 25 online content creators and its aim was to assist media partners to professionally and effectively share lifesaving information, and debunk disinformation on Covid-19 in conflict-prone environments.

It also aimed at enhancing and strengthening the capacities of partner media professional to report on COVID-19.