Event Reports

Africa’s muckrakers gather for #AIJC19

by Brigitte Read

Investigative journalism conference brings together 400 participants from across Africa and around the world to network, learn new skills and share experiences.

During the last week of October, when Johannesburg’s purple Jacaranda trees bloom and students are writing their final exams, the University of the Witwatersrand opens its campus to the continent’s gutsy muckraking journalists for the African Investigative Journalism Conference. The AIJC is now in its 15th year – with KAS Media Africa as one of its longest serving supporters – and for #AIJC19 brought together about 400 journalists and media experts from across the continent and around the world to network, learn new skills and share their experiences.
Panel discussion: Journalism for profit or cause
Panel discussion: Journalism for profit or cause

The three-day conference featured several themed streams covering great stories, data journalism, tools and techniques, safety and security and issues in investigative journalism. There were also a number of masterclasses with top international experts such as Following the money, The Bellingcat workshop and investigating online extremism.

The sessions ranged from the ethics of controversial undercover TV investigations to practical classes on web scraping and data visualization techniques. Key investigations from the past year were highlighted like the Mauritius Leaks, environmental crime and wildlife smuggling, cover-ups of police brutality and Sudan’s livestream massacre.

The first conference day ended with the Carlos Cardoso Memorial Lecture, delivered this year by the inspiring Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo. She was arrested last year on charges of terrorism but spoke passionately about journalism as a vocation and the need for critical and independent investigative journalism to protect democracy and the rights of citizens. (For more: https://journalism.co.za/full-speech-carlos-cardoso-lecture-delivered-by-mimi-mefo/)

An important track at the conference was on media sustainability with a full morning devoted to a workshop guided by some of Africa and the world’s top media success stories outlining their vision and experience in the quest to find a new sustainable revenue model for media – a common message seemed to be: know your audience and diversify your business!

In his closing comments conference organizer Anton Harber mused at how when the gathering first started the speakers had been punting the new tools of “Computer Assisted Reporting” whereas now it was evident from so many of the sessions that the techniques and tools of data journalism have been firmly embedded into the investigative journalism of today, greatly enhancing journalists’ ability to find and tell the important stories of our time.

For more reports on individual sessions from the Wits student journalists visit https://witsvuvuzela.com/.