These Journalists Are Innovating to ‘Empower the Truth’ in 17 Languages

By: 05/18/2023

Eighteen journalists will develop ​​groundbreaking, collaborative multimedia projects designed to amplify the reach of reliable facts around the world, as part of the Disarming Disinformation initiative run by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

The selected journalists will receive grants totaling $72,000 to execute projects, often in partnership with student, community and other groups. They will employ creative tactics that range from podcasts and radio dramas to video games, cartoons, chatbots and social media skits.

The projects span 17 languages, including Ugandan Sign Language and Indigenous languages such as Quechua. This is particularly important because non-English disinformation often goes undetected due to insufficient monitoring and reporting.

“These efforts are designed to undercut viral disinformation with viral trustworthy news,” said Cristina Tardáguila, ICFJ senior program director. “We hope the larger, global community of journalists and fact-checkers will learn and draw inspiration from these important projects to reach more people with reliable information, at a time when dangerous lies are outpacing the truth.”

ICFJ selected winners whose projects demonstrated innovation in the format, distribution process or technology used to amplify reliable news. Grantees are addressing unique issues including misinformation spread by Russia, media literacy, terrorism and migration.

Participants in ICFJ’s Empowering the Truth Global Summit were eligible to apply for funding. The Summit consisted of weekly online training sessions across March 2023 in Arabic, English, French, Hungarian and Spanish. Subject matter experts taught over 1,850 participants from 129 countries how to present and share factual content so that it spreads quickly, undercutting viral disinformation.

Disarming Disinformation is run by ICFJ with lead funding from the Scripps Howard Foundation, an affiliate organization of the Scripps Howard Fund, which supports The E.W. Scripps Company’s charitable efforts. The three-year project will empower journalists and journalism students to fight disinformation.

Read more about each Empowering the Truth grant recipient below.


Sub-Saharan Africa


Willy Chowoo: Uganda

Impact Language: Ugandan Sign Language

Chowoo's project will create a distribution network between a journalists’ union and the National Union for Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDPU) to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing people, who are often targets for misinformation campaigns, have access to reliable news sources.
 

Faydy Drame: Senegal

Impact Language: French

Drame’s project will use social media as a distribution network to ensure access to critical information from government accountability reports - proactively decreasing the ability of political actors to manipulate or distort this information. 

 

Elisha Iragi: Democratic Republic of Congo

Impact Languages: Kituba, Lingala, Luba, Swahili

Iragi's project will engage numerous community radio stations in the DRC across the country's four main languages to broadcast radio dramas that illustrate how to identify and combat misinformation in local communities.

 

Samboe Kamboissa: Burkina Faso

Impact Language: French

As anti-colonial and anti-French sentiment rises in the Sahel, Russian as well as jihadi disinformation agents have sought to capitalize. Kamboissa’s project will use digital tools to verify visual content and counter the flood of false news entering the Sahel. 

 

Patrick Oluwaseum: Nigeria

Impact Language: English

Oluwaseum’s project will utilize in-depth field research and trauma-informed reporting strategies to counter misinformation related to inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
 


Central Europe

 

Anita Gocza: Hungary

Impact Language: Hungarian

Gocza’s project will consist of a series of long-form articles and more concise copy promoted through social media and online influencers. She seeks to report factually on three key historical events that are often distorted for use by political forces: the Trianon Treaty, the end of World War II and the 1956 Revolution.

 

Tomas Molnar: Hungary

Impact Language: Hungarian

Molnar’s project, distributed through the community-run EPER Radio, will produce two parallel series of podcasts on false news. The first will pull in lay people and educate them on disinformation while the second will be geared towards experts in the field and will cover law, psychology and Russia.

 

Adam Vincze: Hungary

Impact Language: Hungarian

Vincze, with the support of the local news outlet Nyugat, will report on the closure of mail infrastructure in western Hungary. With a robust distribution network on social media, Vincze seeks to combat partisan capitalization on post office closures. 

 

Latin America

 

Nathalia Barros: Brazil

Impact Language: Portuguese

Barros’ project will map laws and regulations around the world related to countering (or promoting) mis/dis-information. Beginning in Brazil and scaling up, she seeks to fully illustrate laws that countries are passing on mis/dis-information.

 

Lucas Illanes: Bolivia

Impact Language: Aymara, Spanish

Illanes’ project will use a chatbot, aimed at youth engagement and distributed through online influencers, to combat political misinformation in Bolivia. 

 

Elena Miranda: Peru

Impact Language: Spanish, Quechua

Miranda’s project will train students to produce video games that take the player through a gamified verification process related to information from Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This information, though older, holds particularly salient truths for Peru given recent unrest.

 

South Asia

 

Nanditha Kalidoss: India

Impact Language: Telugu

Kalidoss’ project will focus on distributing a weekly fact-checking roundup via Telugu-language radio stations. The project will use a chatbot tipline to keep tabs on the most timely misinformation reports and will focus on ensuring scalability for future projects. 

 

Harshana Silva: Sri Lanka

Impact Language: Sinhala, Tamil

Silva's project will use a Sri Lankan folk character, Andare, as the main feature in a series of viral videos that debunks misinformation through easily approachable skits. 

 

Jinesh Vs: India

Impact Language: Malayalam

Vs’ project will promote media literacy through video quizzes on TikTok and Instagram Reels in the Malayalam language. He aims to post up to 100 videos to combat the 100 most read false-news topics in the region.

 

Middle East and North Africa

 

Zeinab Mohsen: Lebanon

Impact Language: Arabic

Mohsen’s project, distributed through Facebook, TikTok and WhatsApp, will produce 10 reports and one long-form article on the use of artificial intelligence to combat disinformation. 

 

Syrine Abidy: Tunisia

Impact Language: Arabic

Abidy will produce a curriculum for medical and economics students in four major MENA countries focused on using AI tools to verify primary sources of information. Each of these students will then produce their own project, monitored by Kortable - Abidy’s organization.

 

Nada Abkoura: Libya

Impact Language: Arabic

Abkoura’s project will use four podcasts broadcasted on four radio stations in Cyrenaica that will increase media literacy and how to determine what is misinformation/disinformation, along with a call-to-action for community-based reporting of false news. 

 

Hazm Al-Mazouni: Jordan

Impact Language: Arabic

Al-Mazouni’s project will utilize a skit format, starring an undiscerning father and a savvy son, to explain misinformation from scams that seek to exploit migrants and refugees. He will distribute these via YouTube, TikTok and Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

News Category
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