Winners of the Global Shining Light Awards 2017 announced

Journalists from Nigeria and Iraq were the recipients of the $2000 prize at this year’s Global Shining Light awards.

The work of Emmanuel Maya from Nigeria and Iraq’s Assad Al Zalzali were chosen from 211 projects submitted by journalists across the world for work produced between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. The Global Shining Light awards was hosted on Saturday, November 18 at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC17) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Maya’s special report in Nigeria’s Premium Times was the result of a two-month long investigation into allegations of police and military targeting of ethnic minorities in Onitsha that led to mass deaths in the region of Onitsha. The report was the basis for new investigations by the military and a call for independent investigations into the massacre by human rights groups.

Project 1, Zalzali’s piece for Iraq’s Beladi TV channel, investigated the disappearance of $ 200 million worth of public funds that had been allocated to public schools in the country. It exposed corruption between the Ministry of Education and led to the recovery of a portion of the funds.

The Gujurat Files: Anatomy of A Coverup by India’s Rana Ayyub and Making A Killing, the 2016 collaboration between Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project received special mentions for their efforts.

The Global Shining Light awards are held annually to honour investigative work by journalists from developing countries or countries with uniquely difficult reporting conditions for journalists.


Connecting the dots of state capture

The human consequences of state capture need to be communicated better in order for the discussion about state capture to be more accessible to ordinary people.

This was one of the points raised at a discussion about media coverage of ‘State Capture in South Africa’ that took place at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference on Friday. The session was moderated by senior anchor at eNCA, Cathy Mohlahlana.

Adriaan Basson, editor-in-chief of News24, said that although there was valid criticism about journalists’ failure to communicate the state capture revelations in an accessible manner, they had become increasingly better at presenting dense information in creative ways.

“We [News24] are using more videos. The Daily Sun has also been writing more about the Guptas and state capture,” Basson said. He also commended The President’s Keepers, by investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw, as a “well-written and colourful book. Something many journalists are afraid to do”.

AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Susan Comrie, told the conference that, “A huge failing on the part of discussions such as these is that they take place in English. Journalists are also a little too focused on forensic detail and other detail that interests them as journalists.”

However, Thanduxolo Jika of the Sunday Times, cautioned against the notion that the majority of South Africans are not engaging with the content. “As much as South Africans are unemployed, they are not uneducated. They can see what is going on and engage with it.”

The journalists reflected on the uniqueness of the experience of reporting on state capture and the institutions that were necessary to make it a reality.

Comrie said that it was “a systematic form of corruption where a number of groupings work to extract value from the state”.

“The turning point was the firing of [former finance minister] Nhlanhla Nene. We started getting to know the Guptas and the people they were close to. They actually need Treasury to achieve this. I think it was the recklessness of President Zuma that helped us to connect the dots,” said Jika.

Pauw reemphasised this recklessness in reference to the leaked Gupta emails saying that, “They did not try to hide what they were doing.”

Basson concluded that, “State capture is far from one-on-one tenders. It is literally when policy is changed to accommodate it.”

Journalists were encouraged to continue putting these stories out in the public for historical record even when perpetrators are not prosecuted .