DUBAWA wins Google grant for automated radio fact-checking application

Google has announced DUBAWA as one of the recipients of its third Google News Initiative (GNI) Challenge in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey region

The GNI is part of Google’s ongoing $300 million commitment to support news and journalism to thrive in the digital age through innovation challenges and to create new business models. 

DUBAWA, a verification and fact-checking project initiated by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), is among 34 selected projects across 17 countries to receive $3.2 million in funding for their proposed innovation – to build an automated radio fact-checker application. 

Considering DUBAWA’s continued fight against false information, the ubiquity of radio in Africa as the primary source of news consumption is an identified challenge in addressing the issue. Thus, the application, which will have a trained Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm, is intended to listen to radio stations in Nigeria and Ghana, record all audio, convert it to text and identify claims which could be false or misleading. It will also have the function of categorising a list of claims in order of priority for human fact-checkers to verify.

The Deputy Director of CJID’s Verification and Media Literacy practice, Caroline Anipah, expressed her excitement about the opportunity and stated the importance of the proposed innovation in contributing to the fight against false information. 

“For us, this is a particularly important project considering the role that radio plays in the lives of many in the West African subregion and the pervasive nature of misinformation and disinformation. We anticipate that in addition to helping source claims for fact-checking on the platform, the tool will offer us and others in the media space the opportunity to explore, with empirical evidence, how much of a challenge misinformation on the radio is and to develop appropriate responses or interventions to address it,” Anipah said.

Dr Tobi Oluwatola, the Executive Director of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), also emphasised the importance of the Google grant in enhancing the work CJID does through DUBAWA. 

“The Google partnership is a validation of our efforts as a media innovation think tank and a harbinger of the product innovation we can expect to start seeing from West Africa’s media ecosystem,” Dr Oluwatola said. 

The DUBAWA (Nigeria) team
The DUBAWA (Ghana) team 

The grant application was announced in February 2022, and as Google revealed, they received 425 applicants from 42 countries. The 34 selected applicants won based on all the five criteria assessed by Google. 

“The call for applications listed five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem; innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility – and the chosen projects clearly demonstrated all five,” Google said. 

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