Trust and teamwork across the border goes a long way to solving complicated problems

By Wesley Ford

Human trafficking, health, disease and corruption are some of the international issues which sometimes demand cross-border journalism collaborations. A panel on the topic spoke at GIJC17 conference which focused on how journalists from different regions are working together to unravel complex investigative stories.

Sherry Lee, editorial managing director of The Reporter in Taiwan talked about a human trafficking story she worked on where undocumented Indonesian fishermen were exploited on Taiwanese fishing trawlers. “I would say that the most important benefits to cross boarder collaboration are avoiding parachute journalism and sometimes to collaborate with a partner because they know the contacts and know the laws and sometimes a journalist working alone may not be able to make their own judgement,” Lee said.

Wahyu Dhyatmika, the executive editor of Tempo Media Group in Indonesia, who collaborated with Lee on Slavery at Sea said, “We combine team members and go into the field together and not separately. Every finding was shared including videos and photos.” Dhyatmika said that the story had been published by his company and the work of the cross-border partner was acknowledged.

Milagros Salazar, director of Convoca in Peru told the audience that she had worked with 20 journalists from 11 countries in Latin America to uncover corruption amongst political officials. She said, “To investigate a network of corruption, journalists must learn to work in a network, to be a team.”

Hamadou Tidiane Sy, Founder of Ouestaf News in Senegal spoke about collaboration from an African perspective. According to Tidiane, his corporation worked on the Ebola epidemic where 16 journalists were involved from nine media corporations in eight countries.

At the end of the session there was an agreement among the panelists that it may be necessary to work well with your collaborative partner on a personal level and that it is important to find out firsthand what type of work your partner did before you go into a cross-border collaboration.

PHOTO: Milagros Salazar speaks about cross-border collaborations with Sherry Lee (far left), Hamadou Tidiane Sy (middle) and Wahyu Dhyatmika (far right). Credit: Nonkululeko Njilo.