Event Reports

IPI World Congress in Abuja: Why Good Journalism Matters

In late June, Abuja, Nigeria’s political and media capital, was the host city of the annual International Press Institute World Congress bringing together over 200 editors, media executives and top journalists from the global network whose mission it is to defend media freedom and uphold the highest standards of journalism. This year’s conference theme was “Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Media for Strong Societies”.

KAS has been a long-time supporter of the IPI World Congress which has been hosted for 67 consecutive years. Interestingly, outgoing Executive Board Chair John Yearwood noted that IPI was once nominated for a Nobel peace award for coordinating the summit between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle. This year KAS Media provided funding for a number of local journalists to participate in the conference as well as expert input from the continent’s premier fact-checking unit Africa Check.

With Nigerian elections just a few months away in February 2019, IPI hosted a one day intensive pre-conference workshop to strengthen skills and insights for reporting on elections, with a particular focus on Nigeria. The workshop covered the ethical and legal framework of election reporting, sources and processes journalists need to know and also marked the launch of Nigeria’s Media Code of Election Coverage

 

The Opening Ceremony was held at the impressive Presidential Villa, where the international guests had an audience with a panel of Nigerian Ministers followed by an address by Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. At this high level event the IPI moderator brought up the issue of jailed Nigerian journalist Jones Abiri, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Source, who has been detained for two years without charge. The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed denied knowledge of the case and later claimed that Mr Abiri was not in fact a journalist, a contention the IPI and Committee to Protect Journalists dispute, continuing to advocate for his release behind the scenes.

 

The safety of journalists was again a theme during the conference with Matthew Caruana Galizia of ICIJ speaking on the formation of the collaborative Forbidden Stories project which was set up after his mother Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered six months ago, the aim being to keep the investigations of threatened journalists alive.

 

The conference programme also included key sessions on how African media can face the might of state censorship, collaborative investigative reporting on corruption, financial crimes and abuse of power and understanding terrorism and conflicts in Africa. A particularly popular session was on “Contending with Fake News and propaganda: newsroom strategies to build trust in fact-based journalism.” The panel included Virginia Pérez of Público in Spain, Mary Dedinsky of Northwestern University, Qatar and Africa Check Nigeria editor David Ajikobi. With the rise of disinformation and fake news threatening to spread chaos and mistrust, the panel shared the principles and techniques of fact-checking, trustability tools and transparency of source documents as methods to counteract disinformation – “false news goes around the world five times before the truth gets its boots on”.

 

However, it was perhaps President Buhari who provided the best soundbite during his opening address, a fitting summary of the theme of the conference: “In a world where the borderline between hate speech and free speech has become blurred, good journalism matters. Where fake news dwarfs investigative reporting, good journalism matters. For survival in an increasingly competitive field, good journalism matters. Good journalism promotes good governance.”

Contact Person

Christoph Plate

Christoph Plate bild

Director Media Programme Subsahara Africa

christoph.plate@kas.de +27 11 214 29 00 +27 11 214 2913