Leading investigative journalists share their tips for developing start-ups and innovations

By Khuselwa Anda Tembani

Developments in technology and the way news is consumed calls for innovative and more creative journalism. Speaking on the second day of the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference at Wits University, investigative journalists from around the world shared their experiences of starting innovations and developing them into successful projects.

Kenyan muckracker, Kassim Mohamed was part of a team that established Africa Uncensored, an independent investigative journalism organisation aimed at fighting censorship.

“For over 10 years we have been investigative journalists, but the problem was when you do a great story sometimes it doesn’t see the light of day,” said Mohamed. “We saw a need for organisations that would not censor our stories.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London was started “to come up with an efficient way to conduct investigative journalism”, said managing director Rachel Oldroyd. One of the projects created by the Bureau is a data hub, where journalists can share resources used in their investigations.

Code for Africa, a civic and news technology network supports investigative journalists in 22 newsrooms around the continent. The director, Justin Arestein, spoke of the importance of using technology to drive change through investigative journalism.

Digitization has allowed for large amounts of data to be available, Aristein said, “Media face a major resource crunch and they struggle to do process all the information”.

Innovation is essential for the growth and improvement of investigative journalism. Journalists can respond to the challenges they face in their fields by being creative and pushing beyond the apparent boundaries between disciplines, the speakers stressed.

A challenge and opportunity facing the field of journalism at large is technology, it is increasingly important for journalists to identify ways in which they can use technological advances to their advantage.