WITS University’s AIJC spurs investigative journalists in Africa

Investigative journalism in Africa is not new, but it has always been hard, dangerous and even deadly. In most of the countries with despotic regimes, it’s impossible to do any investigative journalism, and even in some of the ones with democratically elected governments, investigative journalism has come under pressure.

While investigative journalists in Africa often work under difficult conditions, with little or no pay, they have no funding for their work from within the continent and often left feeling like outcasts for doing good to their societies.

However, 15 years ago, the University of Witswatersrand Journalism school, or WITS Journalism which teaches investigative journalism at the graduate level started the Power Reporting Conference, which focused on investigative journalism. The annual conference later became known as the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC). The 15th edition ended last week October 30, at the WITS University in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This year the conference held for three intense days, brought together the best in investigative journalism in Africa and around the world, including academics with interest in the subject to network, share notes, knowledge, tools and build bridges in different ways towards strengthening and enhancing investigative journalism in Africa.

There were some 300 participants from 30 countries, mostly Africa.

The conference is a good place to be inspired, encouraged and retooled to do more, for most journalists from the continent.

The conference has become the pivot in spawning collaborations, such as the Gaming the Lottery and Water Projects lead by Jeff Kelly-Loewenstein, an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley University in Michigan, USA. Some of the partners who worked on the multi-award winning West Africa Leaks, coordinated by ICIJ, were recruited at the AIJC.

Some participants shared their observations with ghanabusinessnews.com.

Naphtali Kumalo, a Researcher with Africa Check sharing his thoughts about benefits of the conference said, he had learned something about data journalism. “I had thought it was complicated, but now it’s not as complicated as I had thought,” he said. Kumalo also expressed his excitement over meeting people that he never thought he possibly could have met. “I have met Anas. He is one of the greatest investigative journalists on the continent. I had no idea he would be here. If he is doing a presentation, I will love to be there,” he said.

Eric from Tanzania said he thinks the conference offers a great opportunity for people to meet and exchange ideas. Ideas they can take back to their countries to implement in the local context.

“I think it’s a great platform for exchanging knowledge,” he said.

For Sarah who works for News24, the many different speakers and variety of topics, make the conference ‘really nice’.

“It’s been really good to get perspectives from other African countries, because in South Africa, we focus on our own work and work that goes on in the US and the UK. And the conference has been very insightful,” she added.

The organisers gave bursaries to 40 journalists from around the continent to attend the conference. The bursary covered return ticket, hotel accommodation and ground transport. Some journalists working with community news outlets also received bursaries to attend.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, back from Johannesburg, South Africa
Copyright ©2019 by Creative Imaginations Publicity
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