My 10 Takes from GIJC2017

Premium Times wins top investigative journalism awardCaught in the web of lethargy, reluctance and frustration, I attended this year’s Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa in order to keep a promise. In a way journalism in Nigeria has lost its flavour and splendour, as newsroom purges are like the sword of Damocles over journalists; while the non-payment of salaries has weakened the self-worth of hundreds of talented and enthusiastic journalists.
Under this sourly atmosphere, a 14-hour flight into a 10-degree centigrade zone to listen to ‘how to take investigative journalism to the next level’ was like forlorn hope to a dying soul. Surprisingly, however, the five-day talk shop fertilised my mind with the seed of hope; hope that, like the proverbial phoenix, journalism in Nigeria could still emerge from its current apologetic state, perhaps in a virile and vibrant way that would put smiles on the faces of the cynical and doomsday prophets.
Below are 10 reasons why the conference became a light unto my journalism path:
1. Premium Times won the ultimate journalism prize, the Shining Light Journalism Award . The weight of the award is measured by the fact that this online newspaper’s story shone from among over a hundred entries from many countries across the world. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nigeria? After the award was announced, I sent out a tweet, saying I was proud to be a Nigerian on that cold but electrifying night of Saturday, November 18, 2017.
2. That night, a Columbian professor and Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stigltiz paid glowing tribute to journalism, especially the investigative genre, saying without our trade the world would revert to its formless and lawless state. By exposing corruption and wrong-doing, journalists have tamed political leaders in many parts of the world. His remarks caused the rebirth of a sense of self-worth in me, a flicker of agreement that journalism may be worth the torturous and tight walk.
3. Third, it became apparent that in spite of the dark cloud over Journalism’s future, there is still a silver lining in innovations and adaptation. Technology is leading to proliferation of platforms, but more importantly, innovators are taking advantage of the possibilities in the convergence of the print and digital worlds.
4. At the conference new methods of carrying out investigative reports were revealed. New tools, new strategies, new principles that lead to the production of impactful journalism across the world were on display, and they encouraged participants that holding governments accountable is becoming easier and possible.

Nigerian team to GIJC

Nigerian team to GIJC

5. Journalists who desire to do good investigative reporting should learn from the devices of security agencies who read between the lines of texts, engage in undercover activities , use distinctive interviewing methods to extract facts and details from interviewees, and arrive at conclusions through informed analyses.
6. GIJC 2017 presented an opportunity for networking with other journalists and grant-making agencies.
7. Many journalists who know their onions established contacts with peers from other parts of the world for possible collaboration in doing transnational stories in future. The Africa Investigative Publishing Collective (AIPC) to which I belong does this regularly.8. There are opportunities for mentoring in newsrooms, as many journalism training institutions are emerging.
9. The importance of data and fact-checking to the future of journalism came clear as the gap between the academic and journalism is becoming thinner and thinner.
10. For journalists, it is time to acquire new skills so as to use new tools that make journalism easier to do and interactive.

The GIJC 2017 was a moment of renewal for journalists who attended. It was the same for me.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nigeria? After the award was announced, I sent out a tweet, saying I was proud to be a Nigerian on that cold but electrifying night of Saturday, November 18, 2017.

Theophilus Abbah

With about two decades of Journalism experience, I now specialize in investigative journalism, counter-terrorism analysis, anti-corruption investigation, forensic linguistics, risk analysis, mentoring, book publishing, and biblical interpretation. I have written and published many investigative reports. I am a recipient of the 2010 Forum for Africa Investigative Reporters (FAIR) Editor's Courage Award and finalist in the Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Award (Print) in 2012. I am the author of a novel entitled Lost in the Wind and a doctoral candidate at the University of Abuja.

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