We received a record number of 192 entries from 27 countries across the continent for the 2020 African Fact-Checking Awards.

Now in its seventh year and continuing to grow, it is the only awards programme that honours journalism by Africa-based media in the expanding field of fact-checking.

In the inaugural year, 2014, we received entries from about 40 journalists across 10 countries. This year’s 192 entries were submitted by a total of 140 journalists and 28 journalism students. Candidates could only enter for the awards in one category but could submit more than one report.

The record number of entries comes at a time where across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered a flood of dangerous false information. The World Health Organization says the outbreak has been accompanied by the so-called infodemic: “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.

The pandemic has raised the stakes even higher in the fight against misinformation, requiring that the media play an even more active role in sifting the facts from the fiction.

“With health-related decisions sometimes being a matter of life or death, good fact-checking journalism is vital – now more than ever. The quality of information disseminated in public can determine the life outcomes of many and so it is the responsibility of the media to refrain from being conduits of misinformation,” says Noko Makgato, executive director at Africa Check.

“Each year we are seeing growing interest in fact-checking as evidenced by the number of organisations that have emerged focusing their efforts on debunking harmful claims in different parts of the continent. This, we believe, strengthens the quality of public debate and, hopefully, improves the quality of life across the continent.”

This year’s categories include:

  • Fact-Check of the Year by a Working Journalist
  • Fact-Check of the Year by a Student Journalist
  • One runner-up in each of the two categories above 

Entries must have been first published or broadcast on any date from 1 August 2019 to 22 August 2020. They should have exposed a claim on an important topic made by a public figure or institution in Africa as misleading or wrong.

The winner of the award for best fact-checking report by a working journalist will get a prize of $3,000, while the runner-up will be awarded $1,500. The winner of the award for best fact-checking report by a student journalist will get a prize of $2,000, and the runner-up $1,000.

The judging process

The entries will be judged on the following four criteria:

  • The significance for wider society of the claim investigated
  • How the claim was tested against the available evidence
  • How well the piece presented the evidence for and against the claim
  • The impact that the publication had on public debate on the topic.

Entries closed at midnight GMT on 22 August. The shortlist will be unveiled by the end of September 2020 – do be on the lookout!

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