Say ‘Hello!’ To Stronger Fact-checking With the Google News Initiative Training Network in India

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The 21st century is helmed by journalism as an important offshoot of media and mass communication as we depend on news correspondents and respondents to keep abreast with regional, national and international events both at micro and macro levels. However, in the light of the present socio-political scenario of our country, very often, skewed, totalitarian and often communal political linings influence news outage and also the formulation of what is to be constituted as ‘news’ for the public.

What with the recent deleterious phenomenon of ‘fake news’ (disinformation) spreading like wildfire to create divides and misconceptions within the Indian multitude, responsible journalism is the need of the hour, in all forms of it, be it print journalism, online journalism, multimedia journalism and so on. And in this very context, Google has come up with its support for trusted, authoritative, and responsible journalism as one of its focal points, with its announcement of the Google News Initiative Training Network in India in collaboration with BoomLive, DataLeads, and Internews.

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Google’s training network is meant to support journalists across India in their fight against the growing menace of misinformation and also disinformation (across the social media handles), equipping them with in-depth and on-the-job verification training. This essential training drive is to be extended to 8000 journalists from English and the rest of the journalists from 6 other Indian languages by next year. The training comprises the most up-to-date strategies to bring down fake news of all sorts.

For the training, 200 journalists will be handpicked from across the cities in India who will be trained in the necessary skills during the 5-day train-the-trainer boot camps. Impressively enough, the trainers will be authorized global verification experts and top Indian fact-checkers (such as First Draft, Storyful, AltNews, etc) who will train these journalists first-hand, affecting the necessary high-grade specialization of verification skills.

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Additionally, more journalists will be trained by these experts in and around their region at 2-day, 1-day and half-day workshops conducted by the Network. Exceeding the language barriers, these training workshops will be carried out in indigenous languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Kannada apart from English in the Indian cities to have a wider impact of the initiative and cater to the training of regional journalism as well.

It’s a heads-up for the newsroom, press club or journalism college individuals who want to do away with misinformation by hosting one of these training drives for their teams/ members/students, to share their interest on the Google India Blog.

As for the journalists or journalism professors who want the sophisticated hands-on training from the certified experts to obliterate misinformation, they are to apply on the blog. And it’s an urge to them to hurry up with their enrolment applications as the seats for the training in regional languages are limited and applications are accepted on rolling basis.

The procedure to become a Google-certified trainer has 3 rounds, with the details put up on Google India Blog.

Some select trainers will be intimated about the dates and venue of the boot camp electronically via email. The Google Network will take up the responsibility of the flights, accommodation, and transfers to and from the venue for the 5 days of training and for any travel arrangements to workshops conducted by the network. Trainers will receive a stipend to compensate for the time committed for the trainings. It’s evident that Google network is leaving no stone unturned in order to ensure that this initiative becomes a raging success, which is what the country desperately needs now in order to distinguish between truth and inaccurate information or fabricated lies passed off as truths for ulterior motives.

It is up to the voice of information for the country, ie the journalists and communities of information experts to join hands and use the advantages of information technology and the internet to verify every information that is floated on any medium, so that a battalion of trusted media can take on and diminish misinformation and disinformation every single time it arises.

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