Ghanaian journalists hone skills in investigative reporting and access to information
Empowering journalists to exercise their rights as key users of Access to Information (ATI) laws, UNESCO Accra office and DW Akademie have collaborated to strengthen the capacity of Ghanaian journalists in investigative journalism and digital safety.
A total of 12 journalists were selected, out of 48 applications, to take part in a 3-week intensive training. The training aimed at investigative journalists working in sensitive contexts, while linking their work to the broader perspective of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development.
Although the participants have produced investigative reports in the past, they have not really exercised their right to access to information under the new Act. The training, therefore, has provided them with the basis to be involved in tracking the implementation of the Act.
“I think I have been equipped to be a trainer of trainees, which means I could train people so they can tap into what I have learned,” said journalist Zubaida Ismail.
The aspect of digital safety proposed in the training also provided an added value to the participants.
“It opened me up to other ways of staying safe online and not leaving much traces. Overall, it reinforced the need to be conscious of digital safety as an investigative journalist,” said Manasseh Azuri Awuni.
The training included one-on-one coaching sessions with two trainers, desk/field research, development of an investigative story outline, as well as presentation and discussion of the outline with the plenum. Following the training, which was concluded in end of November 2020, participants worked on the idea for the investigative story they would like to cover, such as on corruption, health, and environment.
The programme was organised under a project approved by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communcation (IPDC). Titled “Advancing national monitoring and reporting mechanisms on SDG indicator 16.10.2 (Public Access to Information)”, the project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Through the training, the participants were introduced to the basic principles and methods of contemporary investigative work as journalists, as well as to the issue of digital safety, including awareness for latest threats (forms of hacking, surveillance and other methods of digital harassment). They also learned how to improve their risk management (risk mapping of online activities for example phone calls, e-mail, data) and how to lower certain risks. All these were framed in the bigger picture of the SDG Indicator 16.10.2 on Public Access to Information, which calls for the media’s democratic and developmental role in providing sustainable information to the public, thereby promoting transparency and good governance.
Ghana passed the Right to Information Act in 2019, on year after hosting the global World Press Freedom Day conference, making it the latest country to adopt such a guarantee.