By Irene Gaitirira
Published February 9, 2017
A British multi-media broadcaster is set to air a special programme on ‘fake news’ on February 17, 2017.
As part of the broadcaster’s week of special BBC events in Malawi, its BBC Focus on Africa radio programme will be presented live from Blantyre on February 16 and 17.
A Press Statement from BBC says its “broadcasts will include features and reports from the city and beyond, plus live guests and musical acts.”
There is no denying that the emergence of citizen journalists who are also known as bloggers and social media like Facebook and Twitter have changed how journalists work and the way that citizens find and share information and entertainment. Rumours and unverified allegations often spread like wild fire during drought across Africa, threatening lives and national security of countries. But it wasn’t till after the Presidential poll in the United States of America that brought Donald Trump to office in November 2016 that the terminology ‘fake news’ found its place in the English lexicon; it was claimed that pro-Trump made up, fictitious or ‘fake news’ created mainly in Macedonia by bloggers and shared across social media, had enabled him to beat frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton in the November 8, 2016 election.
Since then, technology and social media like Google and Facebook have come under attack as the main conveyors of ‘fake news’.
How can professional journalists whose duty it is to inform society expose or respond to news that isn’t true?
This is the question BBC Africa presenters Akwasi Sarpong of Ghana and Didi Akinyelure of Nigeria will examine in the monthly BBC Africa Debate with a local Malawian audience and a guest panel comprising representatives of government, public and private media, media regulators, bloggers and news consumers in the country’s political capital, Blantyre,on February 17, 2017 at 1500 GMT on BBC World Service radio.
Prepared for audiences across the world, the debate is expected to look at how distrust of the news is affecting African media.
BBC invites listeners from across the mother continent to join in with the discussion by using the hashtag #BBCAfricaDebate in social media.