JOURNALISTS from across Nigeria gathered in Abuja for a two-day advanced training on investigative and data journalism that lasted between January 29 and 30.
The workshop, organised by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, is funded by the Ford Foundation and is the last in a series of training programmes under a project aimed at promoting social justice and accountability in West Africa.
The participants were selected from a range of both private and government-owned media organisations within and outside Nigeria, and are expected to report indepth stories related to the project’s focus.
During the various sessions, they were trained on forensic interviewing techniques, fact-checking, pitch writing, data reporting and visualisation, generating story ideas, and story-specific security tips.
Giving his opening remarks, Executive Director of The ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan, said the centre has had good experiences in implementing the project, citing the example of beneficiaries who have won awards for funded stories.
He also said deliberate efforts were made to involve media organisations owned by the state because it is a misconception that their employees cannot work on investigative reports under certain themes.
“Many journalists in government media houses say you can’t criticise government, but our work here is not to criticise government,” he said.
“Our work is not about just criticising. If government appropriated six billion naira to fix roads in the Southeast for example, and contractors and public officials steal the money, if the lady from FRCN does a story about that, does it not help the government? It’s supposed to help government. That’s the way I think we should all look at this.”
He added that another aim of the project is to encourage collaboration between different media organisations, as well as journalists and civil society organisations.
Musikilu Mojeed, Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times and one of the facilitators at the training, lamented the lukewarm attitude of state-based reporters towards indepth journalism and the fact that irregularities in various states of the country are usually exposed by non-residents.
“So when I find reporters coming from states,” he said, “I always find that very impressive, hoping that they will use the training when they get home.”
“The reason we are in so much problem is the quality of governance at the state level. In fact, the federal government is far better in terms of accountability and openness,” the award-winning Editor-in-Chief added.
Other facilitators at the event included Ajibola Amzat, Editor of The ICIR, and Damilola Ojetunde, a data analysis and visualisation expert.
The Social Justice and Accountability project is a two-year programme that kicked-off in June, 2017. It was established to build the capacity of reporters on investigative data journalism and provide sufficient resources for them to report on illicit financial flows and tax matters.
It also forges a collaboration between the media and civil society organisations in amplifying social accountability issues to ensure more meaningful and enduring impact.