Many media awards honour different sorts of journalism, from “best sports report” or “best news report” to “best piece of investigative journalism”.
If you are thinking about entering the African Fact-Checking Awards, a word of advice: don’t send us a traditional news report.
Great traditional reporting is important but what we are looking for is a great piece of fact-checking journalism.
Is your report a fact-checking report?
Most journalists try to get to the bottom of the story they investigate, but that does not make every story or investigation a fact-checking report.
The difference is the focus. Traditional reporters usually aim to accurately quote and report on what public figures or institutions said, while fact-checkers investigate the accuracy of what was said.
What is sometimes referred to as “dedicated fact-checking” is a relatively new field of journalism that is growing worldwide. It is what we at Africa Check get up for in the morning. We do it because we think fact-checking makes a difference. Promoting accuracy and honesty in debate helps the public make decisions based on facts.
Does it focus on the accuracy of a claim?
To win these awards your report must start out by taking a long, hard look at a specific statement or claim that was made.
You must rigorously sift the publicly available evidence for and against the claim. Then you must present your conclusions about the accuracy of the claim to your readers or listeners.
It’s important that your report should be fair to the person or institution who made the claim and strict in assessing the evidence. It should also be set out in a way that makes the topic accessible to the widest possible audience.
Finally, it should be about a topic that’s important for society at large. Good fact-checking focuses on things that matter.
What fact-checking examples can you follow?
Look at Africa Check’s many examples of in-depth fact-checks. Our fact-checking tips will also come in handy. For inspiration, you can look at some of the reports that won our awards in previous years.
Do this, and you will know what the judges will be looking for again this year: reports that examine claims on important topics that originated in or is relevant to Africa, that test the evidence and tell readers or listeners why the information cannot be trusted.
We’re looking for reports – in print, online or on air – that are fair, clear and well-produced. But we also want to see the impact you’ve had by exposing misleading claims on important topics to audiences across the continent.