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Beginner tips for fact-checking videos: A Case Study of EC’s Purported Verdict Declaration Video

False or misleading information that is peddled as accurate news within the current information ecosystem is a challenge we cannot deny. 

It has therefore become important that everyone, not just journalists or fact-checkers, is equipped with the right information, skills and tools to be able to fact-check claims to ensure truth and accuracy. 

In my fact-checking experience, some of the most complex claims to look into are those with videos as the main item in contention. 

However, there are a few things to look out for,  with respect to fact-checking regular videos, such as this one.

In this video, the Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, is claimed to have declared John Mahama as the winner of the country’s 2020 presidential elections. This was after Mensa had declared Nana Akufo-Addo president-elect on Wednesday, December 9 in a live broadcast.

In this instance, the authenticity of the video itself is being disputed, consequently,  fact-checking is necessary. 

How Should You Do This?

Note that when fact-checking videos, every information counts; sound quality, video quality, video transitions, background noise, videographer’s commentary, audio language, background visuals and so on. All these give relevant information necessary for reaching an accurate verdict. 

Back to our case material, first, you will need to critically watch the 30-second clip more than once to identify any inconsistency or suspicious elements. 

In the specific case of the above video, here are a few things identified after close auditing of the video.. 

1. Jump cuts: A jump cut means a part of the video has been removed to achieve a particular effect or communicate something perhaps different from what the original video was designed to communicate. 

Between the 20-second and 21-second mark, you will observe that the video did not flow seamlessly. It was clear some part of the video had been removed to provide a jump cut.  Why was there a jump cut? What is contained in the missing piece of the video? These are some vital questions you need to ask.

2. Unreal image: A careful review of the entire clip showed that the microphones lined up in front of the speaker are unreal and were imposed on the original clip. The microphones are tilted in an angle inconsistent with how actual microphones during press conferences are expected to be arranged. 

The microphone in the red circle is a clear indication that the microphones were unreal elements superimposed on the video. 

3. Unknown elements: Assuming it was hard to know that the microphones were superimposed on the video, you can consider looking at the microphones to see if they bear the logo of any of the known media outlets in Ghana. 

As a fact-checker, you are not detached from happenings in society and with a news acumen, you should be aware that a major announcement such as the declaration of the winner of a presidential election will have some of the country’s major media outlets present and microphones with their logos on them will be expected to be visible. 

Looking at the video under view, none of the logos or inscriptions project any known media outlet in Ghana, such as Citi FM, Joy FM and Peace FM.  

This also gives reasonable suspicion and grounds that the video may have been tampered with.          

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