Journalists defy that journalism has a gender during the #GIJC17 Women and Investigative Journalism session this morning.

By Zamayirha Peter

Women in investigative journalism should stand against the threats to their reporting, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) was told, in a session titled, ‘Women and Investigative Reporting’.

“There are no concessions for women in investigative journalism. You are held accountable to the same standard as our male counter parts,” said Ritu Sarin an executive editor for the Indian Express, based in Delhi.

“You will get harassed, intimidated but sometimes you just have to be persistent and keep it moving,” added Cheryl W. Thompson, an investigative reporter for the Washington Post. Instead, women should “take advantage of their femininity and gender to positively impact society through the stories they cover”, she said.

At the centre of the discussion was the juggling women investigative journalists have to do in between being wives, mothers and facing up to a patriarchal society.

“The job of investigative journalist requires a tough skin and a spirit that is resilient against all odds,” said Namrata Sharma, the chairperson of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Nepal, who was chairing the session. “You must be tough and get the job done,” she said.

Another speaker, Catherine Gicheru, a veteran editor and leader of the Code for Kenya, said, “If you want to do investigative journalism, know that it isn’t glamorous.”

“I made a decision to not live with my kids out of fear that if I stay with them they would be easily accessible to some of the people I report on and used to “weaken me” from persisting on a story, Gicheru said, and encouraged women to be resilient against the pressure to conform in a patriarchal society.

“We write for the common man. Dig out stories that have meaning to people,” Gicheru added, saying, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity and class position, “we have a common enemy, corruption”.

The basic principles of journalism remain the same, according to Sarin, whose areas of specialisation include internal security, money laundering and corruption. “As a reporter you deal with the reputations of companies and personalities, so you must protect yourself with accuracy, truth and credibility,” she said.

PHOTO: Kenyan journalist Catherine Gicheru (left) opens up about being a mother and journalist while Cheryl W.Thompson (right)                         Photo: Ntando Thukwana