Some young community members in the coastal area of the Western and Northern Zones who hitherto could not put together news stories and identify fake news can now do so courtesy of the Czech Republic and Youth Bridge Foundation.

The two-day youth-focused training armed indigenes on how to identify newsworthy developmental issues and report on them in a more youth-friendly way.

After a study conducted by the Youth Bridge Foundation during the 2020 general elections, it was revealed that about 90 per cent of the youth across Ghana rely on the media to access information.

The research also indicated a direct link between misinformation mostly through the media and the inability of young people to access and participate in development-oriented processes.

While the report found gaps in reporting developmental issues in a youth-friendly manner, it also highlighted a weak capacity to comprehend complex economic, public and broader developmental issues.

Speaking at the training session in Tamale, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Accra, Matej Denk espoused the collaboration between Youth Bridge Foundation and his Mission, adding the training is important owing to the myriad of fake news stories that continue to travel the media landscape.

Matej Denk expressed worry about the phenomenon which has gained notoriety not only in Ghana but globally and has become an affront to peace and security.

He expressed confidence in the ability of participants to become agents of change in their communities and deal with threats of fake news.

Participants were taken through how in their modest ways, they can use citizen Journalism to influence decision-makers and create change as well as guidance on how to gather information and share developmental challenges within their communities including how to identify fake news.

One of the highlights of the training programme afforded participants from both the Western and Northern Zones, a live radio experience where some of them joined the presenters of West End Radio, Esiama and Radio Grin Nyakpala to present various news programmes.

They expressed satisfaction after the training, having been able to understand and report on newsworthy issues in the communities.

Rebecca Da-costa Diabene, a beneficiary from the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis who had her first radio experience was excited to be heard on radio to present the news and highlight issues affecting her community.

Emmanuel Anderson also from the Egyane Nzema East District wanted the programme to be repeated so that his colleagues most of whom lack basic skills in identifying fake news can be trained to educate their communities, especially as the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections approach.

Suleimana Hamza, a participant from the Northern Zone was grateful for the opportunity to polish his skills and be able to put together stories that will catch the eye of duty bearers to bring about development.

Kwame Frimpong said the training was an eye opener as he learnt to put together relevant and timely news stories able to shine the light on the positive things happening in his community to foster development.

Media Practitioner, Thomas Adotei Pappoe who conducted the training programme said media houses receive dozens of amateur reports every day yet are unable to use them because writers lack guidance on how to present the information gathered.

“The decision to train community youth on citizen Journalism could not have come at a better time in the wake of growing fake news ahead of the 2024 elections,” he said.

Thomas Adotei Pappoe commended the people and Government of the Czech Republic for the collaboration and called for further support to assist in sensitizing young people against recruitment into insurgent organizations following recent reports of their activities in coastal and border communities.

Programmes Manager of Youth Bridge Foundation, Joyce Nyame emphasized YBF's commitment to youth development and charged the youth to be responsible citizens who can contribute to the development of their communities.

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