Over 46 million people live in Colombia, but by the end of 2018, only 10 of them were employed as full-time, professional fact-checkers. On Oct. 3, the International Fact-Checking Network lands in Medellín to offer its first verification workshop in the country. The goal is to make sure not only La Silla Vacia and Colombia Check get the support they need to keep verifying, but also teach others how to fact-check.
Colombia has had a polarized political scene for decades and now sees social media playing an important role in the news context. Fact-checking can expand there the way it does in other parts of South America.
IFCN’s four-hour course, a partnership with Google News Initiative, will take place during Gabriel García Márquez’s Festival (organized by Fundación Gabriel García Márquez) and is completely free of charge. Applications are open until Aug. 21 and the list with 40 selected participants will be disclosed Aug. 29. You can apply here (in Spanish only).
“This workshop is not only important for Colombia but also for Latin America,” said Jaime Abello-Banfi, co-founder and director at Fundación Gabriel García Márquez. “We receive so (much) low-quality news today, from so many sources, including powerful ones, that we just need to stimulate more people to join the fact-checking community.”
IFCN’s director Baybars Orsek said that South America plays an important role in IFCN’s history. It was at Global Fact 3 in 2016 in Buenos Aires that gave birth to Code of Principles and triggered the global growth of the fact-checking movement.
“Colombia, home to two verified signatories to our code, has more room for fact-checking and being able to talk about this during Festival Gabo, where fact-checkers, journalists and academics meet, is a great opportunity.”, said Orsek.
The IFCN’s director added he thinks it’s important to remember that Colombia has been a politically polarized nation where Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other private messaging apps play a role. So having more citizens capable of fact-checking can improve democracy not only in the country but also in the continent.
After Medellín, Orsek will cross the Atlantic and land in Beirut, Lebanon, to hold the second workshop planned for this semester. Then he will head to India. The IFCN team will be visiting Taipei, Taiwan, and Seoul, South Korea, before the end of 2019 to offer fact-checking workshops. Other training sessions — in other parts of the planet — will be announced soon.