With more than 170 panels, workshops, film screenings, and networking sessions, it was hard to cover all the great bits of knowledge being shared at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference. To give a sense of the flow of ideas, we’ve drawn from our team covering the conference to offer some highlights. Here are favorite tips, tools, and quotes from #GJIC15…
“In the Balkans it’s like handling snakes, but in Mexico you are in the snake pit,” said OCCRP’s Drew Sullivan of the everyday lives of journalists investigating organized crime.
Although crimes over time expire according to legislation, “we all know that a mafia boss never expires,” said Cecilia Anesi, who investigates the Italian Mafia for Correct!v.
“Data collected from testimonies or news reports, lead us to estimate that 1 billion euros per year is what Europe spends,” to implement restrictive migration policies, said Anne-Lyse Bouyer, Project Manager at Journalism++, an agency that specializes in data-driven storytelling.
“There are lots of people who want to find the truth, and there aren’t many who are digging into the truth,” said Mark Lee Hunter of the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre. “Investigative reporting is not the cherry on the cake, it is the cake.”
“Fifty percent of journalism students do not get jobs after graduation,” said Lee Hunter. “That’s why we need to teach them how to create start-ups.”
“Corruption, smuggling, corporate tax abuse and outright stealing is normal in Africa” as multinational companies negotiate deals that leave the continent with virtually nothing, said Musikilu Mojeed, managing editor at the Premium Times.
Swedish reporter Sven Bergman‘s top three tips for tracking corruption:
1. Cooperate with colleagues around the world
Investigating in a foreign country is difficult. Cooperating with journalist in different countries gives you better insight and understanding of the language, the culture and possible sources.
2. Follow the paper trail
When talking about bribery every situation is unique. Do the work that many economic journalists don’t do. Find out on what company level, economic decisions are made. Is it the board or the management team? Get access to all economic traces; even bribery money is in some way documented.
3. Confront your sources early in the process When we are investigating a company we tend to wait a long time before we reach out to them. Go to the company early on and confront them with your information. Journalists tend to put this off until the day before publishing, but it’s a risky choice, and you might be surprised by their answer.
Assorted Thoughts and Quotes
“Today we will show you that journalism is not a crime.” — Margo Smit
“I want to tell the unwritten story.” – Clare Rewcastle Brown
Ghanaian undercover ace Anas Aremeyaw Anas and ZAM magazine editor Evelyn Groenink offered these tips on how to do investigations in Africa:
Find a Local Partner
- If a Western journalist intends to embark on an investigation in Africa on, for example, natural resources, migration, or multinationals, it is essential to listen to local African investigative journalists. It is very difficult to reach public officials or institutions by phone from abroad, so you’ll need a local partner.
Support Your African Partner
- There is a serious lack of funding for African investigative journalists compared to other parts of the world.
Provide Security for Local Journalists
- By reaching a global audience, you can provide extra protection to local journalists.
Don’t Have Stereotypes
- Africa is incredibly diverse. It’s important that locals know that you don’t buy into widespread stereotypes and cliches about the region.
The sessions were covered by Elaine Wang; Luigi Serenelli; Anne-Mali Thyrum; Maiken Svendsen; Kristine M. Gutterød; and Luigi Serenelli.