UNESCO organized an Investigative Journalism training for Ethiopian Journalists
UNESCO organized a training for journalists on investigative journalism and access to information in cooperation with the Ethiopian Institute of the Ombudsman in Hawassa, Ethiopia from 28 June to 1 July 2022. The training is aimed at enhancing the capacity of investigative journalists and their media institutions to monitor and advocate for progress towards SDG 16.10.2. On the final day of the training, participants formed a national network of investigative journalists in Ethiopia.
The national training brought together 21 experienced investigative journalists from across the country representing media houses both state/public and commercial media of broadcast, print, online and agencies. The training is part of the global advancing national monitoring and reporting mechanisms on SDG indicator 16.10.2 to improve policies and practices on public access to information implemented in Ethiopia.
Journalists are key users of Access to Information (ATI) laws and empowering them will build on and further support their ongoing democratic and developmental role within the country, thereby providing sustainable information disclosure and information dissemination to the public in the long-term.
Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office, in her welcoming remarks, highlighted that access to information is a fundamental human right and is an enabler for other rights. The media, particularly investigative journalists, play a key role in ensuring that this right is respected and citizens have access to public information which enables them to participate in democracy and development. In this context, she highlighted that:
“This training is part of the effort to strengthen national capacities on the implementation of the ATI law and support the achievement of SDGs, particularly SDG 16.10.2 on access to information. It is the media’s role to empower societies with knowledge on sustainable development and other socially relevant issues. Hence, this training is an opportunity for you to revisit your works in relation to the SDGs and strengthen your contribution to the achievement of the Agenda 2030.”
Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office
A mix of theoretical and practical training elements was led by an expert with cases and examples of investigative reports, with an emphasis on the role of investigative journalism in monitoring the achievements of SDGs and promoting good governance and development at the national level. The training was designed based on the UNESCO training manual for investigative journalism training: Story-based inquiry: a manual for investigative journalists which is adapted to Ethiopia. The adapted manual was also translated into Amharic.
In the four days training, key topics such as key processes of investigative reporting, ethics, safety and the key subject areas: ATI and SDGs were covered. The participating journalists engaged in an interactive dialogue and shared good practices on key trends of investigative journalism in Ethiopia, major challenges related to access to information and new tools and techniques for conducting in-depth investigative reporting. These good practices were further reinforced by reviewing award winning investigative reporting done by Ethiopian journalists.
A presentation on Ethiopia’s ATI law and a report of its implementation by EIO was followed by a discussion set the seen on the state of access to information in Ethiopia and how investigative journalists could exploit the opportunities.
“The training created the opportunity to refresh our knowledge and allowed us to get new techniques and angles of investigative reporting. The discussion on SDGs is also an eye opening that would let us do more.”
Mr. Merkeb Reda , Senior Investigative journalist of “Aynachin” programme at the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC)
Mr. Endale Haile (PhD), Chief Ombudsman of the Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO), the national oversight body, highlighted in his closing remarks the role of the media and journalists in promoting access to information and enhancing the public’s participation in democratic processes. Hence stressed that journalists should not undermine their contributions in this regard and called all the media to work closely with his institution in realizing the rights of citizens.
The training was an opportunity for senior and experienced investigative journalists to network and discuss investigative journalism practice and learn from each other. Appreciating the opportunists provided by UNESCO, they formed a national network of investigative journalism that would advocate for the professional practice of investigative journalism and add a voice to the safety of journalists in Ethiopia.
The training was supported by the BMZ/Germany through the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
Since 2019, UNESCO has supported the Ethiopian duty bearers in enhancing their capacities to advance national monitoring and reporting mechanisms on SDG indicator 16.10.2 to improve policies and practices on public access to information in Ethiopia. As part of the project, tools that support monitoring and reporting have also been adapted and translated to Amharic which could be widely used at the national level.