Promoting Fact-checking Journalism to Combat Fake News and Misinformation in Kosovo

Posted on
Kosovo
September 2021 – August 2022

BIRN Kosovo

Through the Promoting fact-checking journalism to combat fake news and misinformation in Kosovo project, BIRN Kosovo and its project partners Internews Kosova, the Press Council of Kosovo and FindBug aim to promote fact-checking and bring together a community of journalists, media professionals, media outlets, and young media talents that will raise awareness, recognition and support for professional journalism, thereby helping to build a sustainable democracy. The purpose of this project is to fight fake news and misinformation, provide hands-on training for aspiring journalists and improve public awareness regarding professional journalism by establishing a platform that utilizes public data and fact-checking resources.

Summary:

Disinformation and fake news are disruptive to the normal functioning of democratic societies, economies and political systems worldwide. In recent years, fake news and orchestrated disinformation campaigns have had a geopolitical influence affecting elections in established and nascent democracies, and undermining the response to global challenges including the COVID- 19 crisis.

It is important to note that Kosovo slipped eight places in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index for 2021. It is now ranked 78th, while in 2020 it was 70th with a global score of 29.33 out of a possible 100 (with 100 being the worst and 0 being the best).

While media and civil society are the main groups to voice concerns over affairs related to public institutions, unfortunately journalists often lack the capacities and practical skills required to utilise freedom of information provisions, carry out in-depth investigations and monitor developments in public procurement, rule of law and organized crime. More importantly, they require focused training on reporting on these issues and upholding professional reporting and fact-checking standards.

Up until now, this absence of information has led to the publication of a proliferation of news stories containing false information, which in turn has led to rising panic and increased confusion and insecurity amongst citizens.

Fact verification and the placement of information in the correct social context is an activity that very few media in Kosovo are concerned with. Furthermore, the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK) has limited funds with which to publish manuals and/or guides regarding the forms of media reporting based on facts. This shows the need of the Kosovo audience for a strong fact-checking presence and the need for an initiative to tackle fake news and inaccurate information.

Additionally, educational programs on journalism in Kosovo do not offer extensive courses for students regarding these topics. As a result, local journalists and students of this field lack knowledge and skills relating to fact verification, and new methods that platforms such as Facebook or other media use in their fight against fake news.

BIRN Kosovo and its project partners aim to promote professional journalism based on fact- checking standards to a wider community of journalists and media outlets in Kosovo by monitoring and reporting false information spread by several media platforms. This will also help the audience to have access to credible sources and be mindful of reports that are not true.

In addition, BIRN aims to improve the capacities of young and mid-career journalists through a series of training sessions focusing on fact-checking tools and methods, including a Fellowship program that will support journalists to write stories using fact-checking tools.

 Donor:

U.S Embassy, Kosovo

Main Objective:

The Overall Goal of the project is to fight fake news and misinformation, provide hands-on training for aspiring journalists and improve public awareness regarding professional journalism by establishing a platform that utilizes public data and fact-checking resources.

Specific objectives:

Specific objective 1: Promote international fact-checking standards and compliance with the Media Code of Ethics among Kosovo journalists and improve local journalists’ capacities to conduct fact-checking work;

Specific objective 2: Design and prepare a fact-checking platform to facilitate fact-checking and recognition of fake news/misinformation in line with fact-checking standards;

Main Activities:

Activity 1: Conducting a research report on identifying gaps and need for reform in the Code of Ethics of the Press Council of Kosovo

Activity 2: Launching a platform to tackle fake news published by Kosovo media outlets

Activity 3: Publishing 60 Krypometër (Truth-o-Meter) articles on fake news on media

Activity 4: Organize 3 trainings on fact-checking methodology with young and professional journalists

Activity 5: Awarding 10 journalists with fellowship for writing fact-checking stories

Activity 6: Marking the International Fact-Checking Day

Target Groups:

Journalists

Young journalists

Journalism students

Media professionals

Media outlets

Kosovo citizens

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Partners:

Internews Kosova, FindBug, Press Council of Kosovo (PCK)