Ifeanyi Onuba was one of 17 journalists who attended ActionAid Nigeria’s (AAN) investigative journalism training for finance correspondents in Abuja. When Onuba arrived at Frankville Hotel, Karu, on December 4, 2014, he was looking forward to “getting more insight on investigative journalism.”
However, after going through the agenda for the two-day training, Mr. Onuba’s expectations were more specific, he wanted to learn to source map and develop model stories.
Mr. Onuba writes for Nigeria’s Punch newspaper. Before the training, he wrote reports without providing all the details that define investigative reports. Now, he has a clearer picture on how to approach investigation and is ready to write reports differently.
It was not the first training ActionAid Nigeria was organising for journalists. Esther Agbon, ActionAid Nigeria’s Governance Coordinator, explained that the organisation works with finance correspondents and Journalists Against Poverty and has “supported various capacity development programmes for these groups especially in the area of budget analysis, monitoring and reporting.
Just recently, ActionAid Nigeria expanded its governance work to include campaigning for the reduction of the cost of governance, the implementation of the Employee Mobility Policy (EMP) and the improved implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
Mrs.Agbon said the training was organised with the expectation that, “Journalists will be able to uncover and publish hidden facts and stories on the high cost of governance, IPPIS and EMP”.
To achieve this objective, ActionAid sought the expertise of the Managing Editor of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed, and the Executive Director of the International Centre of Investigative Reporting, Dayo Aiyetan, who are both globally respected investigative journalists and trainers.
Omolayo Ayodele is a journalist with Murhi International Television (MITV) and one of those who benefited from the training. Unlike Mr. Onuba, she works with a broadcast medium. Before the training, she reported the daily activities of Nigeria’s capital and money markets. So, the training was, “an opportunity for me to know more about what I have not been doing.”
The module on finding documents and information on the web was the most impactful for Ms. Ayodele. Her introduction to The WayBack Machine served as a solution to the challenge she faced with agencies that are fond of taking down sensitive information and documents they earlier posted on their websites.
Although Ms. Omolayo says she has not commenced investigation, the lessons learned from the training is already guiding and strenghtening the work she does.
Ms. Omolayo attended five trainings in 2014, but said the investigative journalism training was the most unique and impactful.
For Funke Ogunlolu, the Senate Correspondent for AIT/Ray Power FM, the session on the Ethics and Codes for Journalists served as an important reminder of how she should conduct herself in the course of her job. She left the training with improved knowledge and zeal to better implement the provisions in the code, and to do better investigation.
Wale Elekolusi is a photo editor with the Abuja-based Inquirer. The new knowledge from the training has helped to improve his understanding of a journalist’s responsibilities to sources and society.
Mr. Mojeed, the PREMIUM TIMES managing editor, believes the training has helped in equipping a new crop of investigative journalists in Nigeria with skills needed to hold officials accountable and enhance the people’s right to know.
For Mr. Mojeed, the training was one of the liveliest he has facilitated in a long time, as participants asked questions, contributed to discussions and challenged assumptions.
Mr. Aiyetan, the co-facilitator, said he believed the journalists learnt new skills for investigating businesses, particularly in relation to the infraction of business laws. He also believed the training helped improved the professional side of their business in terms of ethics.
“The training methodology was excellent as it incorporated all aspects of learning such as visuals and practical,” Mrs Agbon of ActionAid said. “Participants were able to relate training to their everyday challenges and most importantly key tactics on how to use the internet to access information was unravelled.”
The training had sessions on generating story ideas, planning investigative stories, source-mapping stories, finding documents and information on the web, developing model stories and journalistic ethics and codes.