As a high point of training workshop hosted by Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding, CEMESP with support from UNESCO, Journalists and civil society actors from four counties Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Bassa have come up with story ideas, being hypothesis to test in unearthing various issues bordering on fraud and malfeasance.
To come up with two story ideas per county, the participants went into break-out brainstorming sessions and reflected on issues that were presented with mapped-out, relevant sources.
The workshop, which concluded over the weekend in Gbarnga Bong County and benefited twenty journalists of both genders, was designed to enable them demand political accountability, leading to inclusive governance. The three-day training was designed to transmit best practice modules from a specially designed story-based investigative reporting manual. Journalists learnt introduction to investigative reporting, forming the hypothesis, investigative reporting style and structure, data driven reporting using the FOI law, among other things.
Clear distinction was made between the normal journalistic practice that sticks to reporting events as opposed to the process-oriented story-based investigative reporting. The training was also subject to pre and post-test evaluation with sessions for recap, which portrayed participants’ level of understanding of the issues. The facilitators, CEMESP Program Officer Albert Baron Ansu and Publisher of the Public Trust Media, Frank Sainworla, stressed that investigative reporting requires research, depth and is fraught with risk factors.
The trainers, however, encouraged the participants not be cowered or over confident, but see investigative reporting as process of following up on tip-offs in uncovering hidden issues that bring out facts and figures to serve the public interest. Participants have shown the zest to work as a team in navigating the risks that abound and take ownership of the process.
They were reminded that there is immense goodwill from donors that are eager to instill transparency and accountability based on fact-based reporting anchored on ethics, rather than subterfuge. CEMESP will, under this project, provide support to the journalists and CSOs in cash and mentoring to ensure that issues will be produced in a series of conclusive investigative pieces that will lead to concrete actions in policy enforcement and positive change in the lives of the people.
Civil groups in the network have committed to following up stories that will be investigated and produced under this project. CEMESP will at the end showcase these stories as examples of good journalism in holding public officials to account for stewardship.