|Anim with Zambian Bloggers during the meeting in Lusaka|
Africa Check, the Johannesburg-based organisation which is leading the way in promoting factual news on the continent, has started engaging Zambian stakeholders with the hope of kick starting fact checks across the country.
Africa Check Deputy Editor Anim Van Wyk, who was in Zambia for a couple of days this week, has visited several media institutions to find ways in which they could partner in fact checking stories in future.
Anim has so far visited the Zambia Daily Mail and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation where she held meetings with editors to find out how they could work together.
This morning, Anim met members of the Zambian Bloggers Network, an organisation composed of about 50 journalists who blog on various issues such as politics, gender, development and reproductive health.
Anim told the bloggers that she was keen to see how they could come on board and help in fact checking stories and public claims.
"I know that in Zambia you have topical issues like the upcoming presidential elections and the constitution. So we would love you people to fact check on the main campaign issues, what candidates stand for and also the issues in the constitution," said Anim during the meeting held at the Arcades Shopping Mall.
She further said Africa Check will in the future start commissioning stories to fact check in Zambia but she encouraged bloggers to also start suggesting stories to be fact checked since they are on the ground.
During the meeting, bloggers raised concern at the lack of adherence to journalism ethics by some Zambians online.
"There is need for professionalism on the internet. People just post stories without verifying and they mislead the masses," complained Sally Chiwama, who blogs on gender and reproductive health: (http://sallychiwama.wordpress.com/)
Another blogger Richard Mulonga, said the internet has made people more aware of what is happening worldwide.
"People now can read anything from anywhere just on their laptops or phones. For those practising journalists, blogs are their only avenue to express themselves without those newsroom restrictions," said Mulonga, who blogs as The Picture Monger: (http://thepicturemonger.blogspot.com/2008/09/picture-monger.html)
Meanwhile, Zambian Bloggers Network Director Brenda Zulu said the low internet penetration in the country is a source of concern.
"Its a pity that very few people access the internet in this country. Most of them access the net on their mobile phone. We need more people online to create an informed nation," said Brenda, who blogs under the name ICT Journalist: (http://brendait.blogspot.com/)
Africa Check in partnership with the AFP Foundation and African Media Initiative are running the annual Africa Fact Checking Media Awards which were held for the first time last month in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.