The ideas of sharing and collaboration were the main themes during a session based on building journalistic networks on the African continent.

Journalists from across Africa and the world had the opportunity to share their most commonly covered journalistic stories and ideas on how to create shared networks at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference hosted at Wits University in Johannesburg.

The discussion was moderated by Stefaans Brummer, co-founder of the Mail and Guardian’s amaBhugane investigative unit, Catherine Gicheru, founding editor of The Star newspaper in Kenya and Dapo Olorunyomi, winner of the International Editor of the Year award in 1995. The discussion was open to the journalists in attendance in order to allow them to share their experiences in the countries in which they are based.

Some of the countries represented at the discussion included Sudan, Egypt, France and England. Journalists from those countries expressed similar issues that are important such as exposing government corruption, investigations into the private sector and the financing of terrorism. They also exchanged ideas on how to create practical networks to be able share information and tip offs with one another.

Dr Don Pinnock, an independent journalist and author for the Conservation Action Trust said that “You can build a database in such a way that it’s universal for the whole of Africa and that you have sub categories and sub hubs for particular areas of interest. You need to rake that data in such a way that you get what you want.”

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane from the MNN centre for Investigative Journalism in Lesotho said that “it’s important, as investigative journalists, for our stories to make an impact and through building networks, change can come gradually if other journalists start reporting on similar issues from different angles. Networks will help us bring change and not just expose an issue and leave it at that.”

The session went a long way to building these kinds of digital networks, with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) agreeing to host this kind of hub should it become a reality.

PHOTO: Journalists across African borders sit in small groups as a way to connect and form a network of African journalists.
Photo: Kayla De Jesus Freitas