In wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and misinfodemic around it, Vishvas News became a bridge between factual and fact-checked information and the citizens to keep them safe — both from the deadly virus and COVID-related misinformation.
In February 2020, Vishvas News, a fact-checking unit of Jagran New Media, launched the second edition of its flagship programme, Sach Ke Sathi Health Fact Check, under Jagran New Media’s Media Literacy Programme. It created a community of hyperlocal fact champions who later helped more than 50,000 people in six cities understand the threat of the COVID-19 misinfodemic.
JNM’s mission statement is to create factual and credible content that empowers New Bharat through knowledge, information, and voice toward better health, education, and growth — leading to an inclusive and progressive society.
Sach Ke Sathi is a basic fact-check training and awareness drive to teach common citizens how to identify, observe, and debunk fake news, then share the fact-checked information in their own social circle. Vishvas News reaches out to common people by creating a pool of fact champions with the help of Dainik Jagran’s extensive network across the country.
Vishvas News launched the first Sach Ke Sathi Fact Check training programme during India’s general elections, and initiated the second Sach Ke Sathi Health Fact Check in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in India. Vishvas News conducted both Fact Check training sessions in association with Facebook.
Why it’s needed
The flow of misinformation was huge even before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in India on January 30. To tackle the potential misinfodemic, Vishvas News launched the Sach Ke Sathi Health Fact Check training and awareness drive across six cities of five states in India.
Vishvas News conducted 12 training sessions in six cities starting on February 20 in Delhi and ending February 29 in Varanasi. The Sach Ke Sathi Training Sessions were conducted in New Delhi (Delhi), Chandigarh (Haryana), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), and Patna (Bihar).
The team of certified and trained fact checkers of Vishvas News, led by Jagran New Media’s Editor-in-Chief Rajesh Upadhyay, visited all cities in groups and conducted 12 in-person training sessions in all six cities.
Hyperlocal Fact Check community getting stronger
Around 1,200 people attended the training sessions; later, those 1,200 people trained 60,000 more people in their own social circles about the COVID-19 misinfodemic. The 50,000+ fact champions are now providing fact check trainings to more and more people in their own community and social circles with the support of Vishvas News.
Around 2,000 people had received similar fact check training and became fact champions after the first Sach Ke Sathi training sessions, conducted in nine cities during the Lok Sabha Elections in 2019. Those 2,000 fact champions had then trained 55,000 more people in their own social circles in the next three months.
Vishvas News has developed a hyperlocal community of around 3,000 fact champions from 12 cities of seven states over the past year. Those fact champions have, so far, trained more than 100,000 people in fact checking and most of them are highly active in their own cities with the support from Vishvas News’ team of fact checkers.
With the help of 3,000 hyperlocal fact champions and more than 100,000 fact champions in 12 cities, Vishvas News is aiming to create a strong army of hyperlocal fact champions to arrest the flow of misinformation with the support of Dainik Jagran’s network, government officials, local influencers, health experts, doctors, and other experts.