By Lansana Fofanah.
The United States Embassy in Sierra Leone in partnership with the Sierra Leone Library Board yesterday organized a media literacy lecture for graduates from different disciplines at the Headquarters of the Sierra Leone Library Board Freetown.
Over five hundred graduates turned up for the training but had to be returned as the training was only meant for one hundred participants.
Explaning the theme of the lecture, Mr. Derek Gleason; a Digital Marketing Specialist said that, with the emergence of millions of websites, it is better for graduates to be literate in media which will help them in their search for job and research.
“Internet emerged in 1969 which researcher used for various purposes. Now we have 1.3 billion websites and 4.63 billion web pages which have made information accessible”, he said.
He said that with the availability of various social media platforms such as FaceBook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google, the onus of verifying information should be paramount as fake news and websites are too many.
Mr. Derek said that, with the help of Internet, it is easier for publishers to publish their works online which is instant and can be accessed by many.
He said unlike books that have to go through the process of editing for publishers to maintain their integrity, fake sites don’t take such into consideration, and that is why most of the messages online are fake.
“In Sierra Leone, there are 792,000 internet users which represents 11.8% and 310,000 FaceBook users which is also 4.6% of the population”, he said.
He said that almost every country in the world are now using Fiber optic cables to connect fast and reliable Internet, all in a bid to get the world informed.
Emily R. Green, the Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy said that, they targeted university graduates because they have what it takes to shape the public perception of how they perceived media messages.
She said that it is better for everyone to cross check information to know whether it is a fact or opinion before posting them on different platforms.
She said that, they have been organizing such lectures and their focus will be to spread media literacy throughout the country.
The Administrative Assistant and Head of Programs at SLLB, Mrs. Theresa Wusha Conteh said that, many Sierra Leoneans have been encountering problems in relation to social media, and this training will go a long way in changing the media narrative in the country.
“People receive messages and interpret them the way they want it just to sooth their comfort. I was so surprised to see graduates holding their Curriculum Vitae when in actual fact the message I sent out was about media literacy lecture”, she added.