Tuesday, 30 October 2012

More pictures from the internet training

Here is Ratifa Baranyikwa, news editor of Tanzania Daima, enjoying
a fact-finding exercise on Wednesday.
Flora Rugashoborola is news editor at Star TV in Mwanza and also one of
the trainers of the regional internet training courses for reporters upcountry.
Here is Njonjo Mfaume, journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es
Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Timothy Kitundu is senior reporter at The Express specializing in business
news and environmental features.
In the front Agnes Shija, journalism lecturer at Tumaini University Dar es
Salaam College. Behind is Cecilia Mng'ong'o of MISA Tanzania.

Here is Masembe Tambwe, features writer at the government newspaper
Daily News, searching for information from the internet.
Mohammed Tibanyendera, media freedom campaigner and chairperson
of MISA Tanzania, delivered the closing speech on Friday.
All photos by Peik Johansson

Final feedback on what we are taking home

The training ended well last Friday with final assignments produced and links posted to the original stories.

At the end of the training, the participants filled in an assessment questionnaire and also published their final feedback from the training days.

Most participants said that the aims of the training were reached very well and they were able to learn the things that they expected at the beginning of the training. Many of the participants were however of the opinion that three days was too short time for the training. One participant suggested that the training should last at least one week.

Jabir Idrissa, editor of Mwanahalisi, explained in his last posting the procedure of the final research assignments. He mentions the links made from the final stories to the information sources. ”This was an essential part of the training, since it is important that we journalists lead the readers to the sources from where we searched for the information”, he writes.

Erick Mchome, features writer at The Citizen, says that many journalists in Tanzania fail to use the internet as one of the greatest source of information. ”Many use just 30 percent of the internet without knowing that it can offer different useful information”, he writes and adds that he’s going to use the skills he has learnt during the training to “tighten my career and become one of the successful young English-language journalists in the country”.

Agnes Shija, journalism lecturer at Tumaini University Dar es Salaam College, describes the last day of the training as “real school”. “The assignment kept me busy inferring to all what we have learnt from the first day”, she writes. “Researching through the net, links and the journalistic exercises have inspired me more in the usage of the internet. The skills will enhance my teaching and approaches in teaching journalism students to raise their enthusiasm in the use of internet”, she concludes.

Flora Rugashoborola, news editor of Star TV, also tells about the final closing speech delivered at the end of the training by MISA Tanzania chairperson Mohammed Tibanyendera. “The speech was very touching for me as he argued that journalists, lawyers and other activists should work together to fight for media freedom in our country.” She also thanks MISA Tanzania for the good job that they have done for Tanzanian journalists on internet training. “Let us join hands to improve the journalism profession in our country especially in the era of digital!”

Also Ali Othman, Zanzibar correspondent of Changamoto and coordinator of Zanzibar Press Club, believes in the future of internet journalism. “It’s my hope now that it’s time for online journalism to grow up in Tanzania and beyond our boundaries”, he writes.

From my side, I also want to thank all participants for very active and enthusiastic participation during the whole training. Thanks to Cecilia Mng’ong’o from MISA Tanzania who facilitated everything during the training days. Many thanks also to Andrew Marawiti and others at the MISA Tanzania secretariat for very efficient pre-training arrangements. Thanks to TGDLC too for the stylish venue and effective IT support. Thanks also to the catering staff for the morning teas and rice and stews which kept us going throughout the training days.

Friday, 26 October 2012

More investigative stories on China, Coke and oil

Today is Eid al-Hajj, the Islamic festivity of pilgrimage, when millions of Muslims gather in Mecca and Medina. It’s also a public holiday in all Islamic countries, Tanzania among them with its roughly fifty-fifty share of people being Muslims or Christians. So early this morning, the singing could be heard from the mosques all over Dar es Salaam, and some of the participants were there as well.

But public holiday or nor, we are now still in class, however, due to the fact that the exact date of Eid was announced only last week. And our timetable was settled already weeks before, when the Islamic calendars claimed that Eid would take place on Sunday, that is, the day after tomorrow. On Wednesday, when we started the training, it was agreed among the Muslim participants that on the day of Eid they can leave the training for the day prayers if they so wish.

In the class today, the participants have spent most of the time searching for information to stories on one of the following assignments:
China and Africa
Opportunities and challenges
Find facts and figures from the web on trade and investments. Which are the main sectors that Chinese companies are focusing on in Africa?
How do the African countries benefit? How do ordinary people react to Chinese business in Africa? Write a story and link to sources online.

Coca-Cola in India
Write a short commentary about how the soda factories of Coca-Cola Company have affected the environment and lives of local communities in India.
Add links to your sources.

Shell in Nigeria
Write a compact story about the environmental consequences of oil production in Nigeria.
What did a recent report by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reveal about the situation on the ground in Ogoniland?

Provide links to your sources.
The procedure was such that the participants were given personal feedback for the first drafts that they published in their blogs, and afterwards they had good time to develop their stories, edit them and add links to their original sources.

The search tips from the previous days were supposed to be kept in mind: Think first what you are searching for. Use the right search words. Go though many sources, so you get a good picture of the contexts and you will also find interesting details. Then structure your story in your mind and paper. Copy-pasting should of course be avoided. Instead, if necessary, good background stories found could be printed for underlining and reference during the writing process.

Here are the links to the stories of the participants. For China and Africa, see the stories of Njonjo Mfaume, Simon Berege and Ratifa Baranyikwa. Coca-Cola activities in India were chosen by Erick Mchome, Timothy Kitundu, Ali Othman and Jabir Idrissa. Here’s also Jabir’s story in Kiswahili. Shell in Nigeria was chosen as the research topic by Flora Rugashoborola and Agnes Shija. Flora and Agnes this time coached each others. They paired up, read each others’ draft stories, shared ideas and gave feedback and then went back to finalize their stories with the suggestions they received from each others.

How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism and the need for ethical reporting and true professionalism have been continuously on the agenda during the training days.

The website
Plagiarism.org lists the following examples as plagiarism:

Turning in someone else’s work as your own

Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit

Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks

Changing words but copying the sentence structure without giving credit

Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not
For most journalists, editors and lecturers in class, the previous examples sound too familiar.

Then how can you avoid plagiarizing? In most cases by citing sources. By simply explaining that a part of the material has been borrowed, and providing your audience the information necessary to find the original source. That’s usually enough to prevent plagiarism.

Plagiarism has never been as easy as it is today. Before the internet, potential plagiarists would have had to go to the library and copy texts from books by hand. But the internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in a few minutes one could find, copy and paste together an entire seminar paper, or a feature story.

But there’s no point in copy-pasting. You just make a much better story by writing in your own style and words. An editor or a teacher should also easily recognize passages that are directly copied, from the vocabulary used.

Journalists in any country caught plagiarizing can get sacked. If you are copying someone else’s story for an article published in your own name, you might also get sued for copyright infringement and be forced to pay heavy compensation. The same goes for publishing a photo without the permission of the copyright owner. In most of the world, the length of the copyright is usually 50 or 70 years after the death of the author. In Tanzania, 50 years.

The recommendation was that all participants would take their time and read the Tanzanian Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act from 1999, found
here as a PDF file on a UNESCO web portal where they have collected the copyright laws from most countries.
Here’s another link to a good BBC story about plagiarism, how easy it is, and how easily it can be detected.

On maps and links and digesting much material

Participants have posted their feedback on yesterday’s sessions. My most important point of the whole day was how to narrow the search by time of publication, by language, by excluding some words from the search, as well as other advanced search options. Sometimes it’s also wise to search from the whole web, sometimes from Google News only, or Google Scholar for academic articles.
These points were well taken at least by Njonjo Mfaume and Flora Rugashoborola. Flora has actually provided a detailed summary of almost everything we did in class yesterday. One new thing she says that she has learnt was how to provide links from the stories in the blog to the original sources or other websites providing more information.
Other participants mention that yesterday much more time was spent on the investigations.
“Searching about Ezekiel Kemboi, a Kenyan athlete, was a good exercise. The lesson for me was to have so much material and be able to digest it and come up with six paragraphs for a commentary piece”, writes Erick Mchome.
Ratifa Baranyikwa also mentions Google Maps. She says that she found out that a map can sometimes be the best source of information and you can also use maps in news reporting. She actually got so much interested in the maps that she did her own online investigations of how maps can be used in journalistic research and news reporting. So let’s wait and see whether Tanzania Daima will in the future start to publish maps together with their news reports – which is common practice in the newspapers in the Scandinavian countries.

Think first and other tips for fact-finding

Here’s some useful tips when searching for information from the web.

Think first, before going to the web.

What do you search for and where might you find it? Are you searching for simple facts, backgrounds or any other information that can develop your story? Should you google, or can you find the information on a specific website you already know? Do you find it from the internet, or better somewhere else?

Always monitor other news sites, both local and international, and also other web resources.

Choose right search words.

Try different Google search options - sometimes web, sometimes news, sometimes “all web”, sometimes only Tanzanian pages, or only Swahili language pages.

Open pages in a new tab. While the new pages are opening, you can continue reading the original page.

Add to favourites. Also open new files for your favourites. Then you will easier find the stories when you want to come back to them.

Follow the links in the stories you read.

Go to original sources.

Don’t always read everything, but scan for what is of your interest.

Don’t ever copy-paste! That’s

Print if necessary. Read as homework, underline.

Also make notes to your notebook and save drafts to a USB flash.
Here’s some more tips before you start writing the story.
Structure your story in your mind and on paper.

Decide what is relevant for your narrative.

Write simple with own words.

Quote when necessary.

Understand what you write (you are there to make things understandable for your audience).

Add details for human interest.
When you’re about to publish:
Provide links to original sources (if you publish online).

Always also think about headline, visual outlook, quotes, images, graphics etc.
Some general good advice for producing good investigative stories:
Spend much more time on the investigation than on the actual writing.

Plan your story into narrative chunks.

Also plan how you use your time
- for research
- for writing
- for editing your text
- for checking facts
- and for delivering the final story.

Some photos from the training

Here on the right Jabir Idrissa, editor of the Mwanahalisi newspaper,
and on the left Ratifa Baranyikwa, news editor of Tanzania Daima.
Erick Mchome, features writer at The Citizen, concentrating on his
research assignment.

Ali Othman is the Zanzibar correspondent of Changamoto newspaper
and also coordinator of Zanzibar Press Club.

Here from the left Simon Berege from Tumaini University, Masembe
Tambwe from Daily News, and Timothy Kitundu from The Express.

Flora Rugashoborola is news editor of Star TV and beside her Njonjo
Mfaume, journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam.
Photos by Peik Johansson

Seeking the truth about the steeplechase champion

We have today moved on to real fact-finding and producing stories based on the investigations. Already on Wednesday, we started with a warm-up of some more simple research in order to activate our brains and minds to the more challenging research.

To find out the population of
Iringa town, the phone number of Tanzania National Parks and the street address of the Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam were yet easy tasks. Populations, geographical and political details and such can usually be found in a Wikipedia article that you would reach just by searching for the name of the place or country. Links to contact information are usually found on the top of the website in the right end of the page, or in a column on the left side of the page, or at the bottom of the page.

So far easy was also to find out who is the current
president of Mali, even though the previous one was quite recently toppled. The task to find out who is the president of Sweden was however a bit more difficult as the country is a monarchy and has a king – with no political power though. The prime minister is the head of the government.

As Tanzanians usually love English football, one search was to find out who is the
top goal scorer of the English Premier League at the moment.

Some other assignments were a bit more challenging for a warm-up, like
what president Jakaya Kikwete actually said during his speech at the conference of the women’s league of the ruling CCM party in Dodoma last weekend. The direct quotes of the president were finally found by narrowing the search to the last week only, by choosing search results in Kiswahili, and excluding from the search the local blogs, which are popular but usually publish just photos.

Today the participants have been searching for information about Ezekiel Kemboi, the Kenyan Olympic gold medal runner in the 3,000 metres steeplechase, and why he has been in the news this week. Stories were written and links provided to the original sources.

The recently buried court case of Kemboi and a young lady called Anne Njeri Otieno is all about sex, celebrity and violence – as well as differing opinions and unanswered questions. For more details, see the stories produced by the training participants. Here’s the story by Ratifa Baranyikwa, here’s Erick Mchome’s text, and here you can find Masembe Tambwe’s narrative. Njonjo Mfaume, journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, has also compiled a pretty balanced commentary – with a very interesting link to an article published in the Kenyan newspaper The Star, usually well-known for its more sensational reporting.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Reflections from the first training day

Participants of the investigative internet training have made postings on what we did on Wednesday and how they felt about the first day’s training.

Ratifa Baranyikwa, news editor at Tanzania Daima, says that the course has been engaging and has helped to broaden her knowledge to find hidden information from the web for her journalistic research. Some clues she mentions are to use the right search words, to follow links and try to find the original sources.

Erick Mchome from The Citizen says that he likes that the course is "intensive and hands-on”. He mentions as an example of new things he learned the narrowing of a Google search for web pages from the past week only, from the past month, the last year, or reducing the search material for specific dates.

Agnes Shija, journalism lecturer at Tumaini University Dar es Salaam College, has written a compact summary of first training day. She also says she enjoys the attitude in the class of sharing knowledge and experiences, also among the participants.

For another comprehensive review of the events on Day 1, see the posting by
Simon Berege, head of journalism department at Tumaini University Iringa College. He produces a full report about the many definitions of what is investigative journalism, and what is investigative internet journalism. He also lists a number of search tips, such as “think first, before you search”.

Timothy Kitundu, senior business reporter from The Express, has also prepared a detailed summary of the first day, explaining the main points of the speech delivered by Jussi Nummelin from the Finnish Embassy. Kitundu says that he learned that investigative internet journalism “is a vital working tool especially when seeking information from adamant and bureaucratic sources”. In his opinion, the most important point from yesterday was however this: Spend much more time on the investigation than on the actual writing of the story.

Some resources on online investigative reporting

Here’s a few articles and websites that I showed on Day 1 about investigative reporting going online:

Online investigative journalism is an article written by Australian journalism professor Alan Knight already in 2001 about how investigative journalism can develop by making use of more advanced online research methods and searching for information from the internet.

How investigative reporting makes use of the internet is an article in the British Guardian by Mercedes Bunz listing some examples how reporters have started to use the internet to get hints from the public or to ask their audience for help with checking facts.

Paul Bradshaw is an online journalist and blogger who is writing a book about investigative journalism in the age of internet.
Here’s a part from one of his book chapters about how investigative journalism found its feet online.

How investigative journalism is prospering in the age of social media by Vadim Lavrusik is an interesting article with lots of embedded images about the latest trends of distributed reporting, community-sourced mapping, investigative networks, and other ways how reporters in the US and UK have been making use of the social media for their news stories.

Angolan deportee See how the investigative reporters at the Guardian were using Twitter to get help from their readers in reporting about the death of Jimmy Mubenga who was to be deported from the UK to Angola but died after very brutal treatment by his guards on a British Airways plane.

BAE Files The same Guardian did a very good job in investigating the corrupted arms trade deals with the British arms company BAE Systems and Tanzania and Saudi-Arabia. Everything has been published online with links, photos of original documents, videos, and explanations how the investigations were done.

Wikileaks is of course a huge online source for information on political stories in almost every country that has a US Embassy. From this page you should be able to find all 663 diplomatic cable reports sent from the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam between January 2005 to February 2010 about often secret discussions held between Tanzanian officials or individuals and US diplomatic staff. The revelations that the government anti-corruption chief was afraid for his life can be found here.

Failed Futures by Daily Dispatch, a South African newspaper published in East London, is a beautifully produced investigative story about the conditions of public schools in the rural Eastern Cape province. The Book of Dreams is a flipbook album with portrait photos and handwritten stories by young pupils about their future dreams. It’s like a virtual photo album where you can use your mouse to drag and flip the pages.

Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) This South Africa-based organization provides lots of resources about investigative reporting: practical manuals, tip sheets, trauma support and info about upcoming investigative journalism conferences. On the front page, you can find some examples of the best investigative stories from several African countries.

Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) is an American investigative news organization that publishes investigative stories online, both stories by their own staff and stories produced by other journalists and news organizations. The website also has a Reporter Tools section, a free and comprehensive how-to-get-started package for wannabe investigative reporters. It’s basically meant for American reporters, but can include useful tips for anyone interested in more in-depth reporting. One of the first links, for example, takes you to a short guide on how to make reluctant people loosen their lips.

What is investigative internet journalism?

Now what do we mean with investigative internet journalism? To break down that concept, maybe it’s first best to define what we mean with investigative journalism. There are also several different definitions for that.

According to the
Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a topic of interest. Often it focuses on topics such as crime, political corruption, corporate wrongdoings, or any other topic that some other people in the society would rather want to hide from the public. Investigative journalism might include undercover reporting, analysis of documents or databases of public records, or numerous interviews, also with anonymous sources. An investigative journalist may spend months or even years researching and preparing a report.

The News Manual is an online resource for journalists published with the support from UNESCO.
According to the manual, the job of journalists is to let people know what is going on in the society and the world around them. Journalists do this by finding facts and telling them to their readers or listeners. Throughout the world, however, governments, companies, organizations and individuals try to hide decisions or events which affect other people. So when a journalist tries to report on matters which somebody wants to keep secret, this is investigative journalism.

According to the Investigative Journalism Manual by the South Africa-based Forum for African Investigative Reporters, investigative journalism digs deeply into an issue of public interest, producing new information or putting known information together to produce new findings. It means searching for information from many sources, using more resources than in usual daily reporting, and often it demands teamwork and time. Investigative reporting is often revealing secrets or uncovering issues surrounded by silence. But it’s not always about bad news, and doesn’t necessarily require undercover techniques. Usually this kind of reporting also aims to provide context and explain not only what has happened, but also why.

The word investigate, again, according to The New Oxford Dictionary of English, is to carry out research or study into a subject in order to discover facts or information; to make inquiries about the character, activities or background of someone; or to make a check to find out something.

So broadly defined, investigative reporting sounds like a very essential part of every journalist’s work: finding information and making inquiries about facts, backgrounds, context, and simply investigating the story we are working on.

Definitions found through the internet about what would be
investigative internet journalism, or investigative journalism online, differ even more. These are new concepts, and different people understand them differently.

For some it would mean doing investigative inquiries by making use of the social media to provide answers to the journalist’s questions. For others it means publishing the investigative reports online with all the possibilities provided by multimedia and interactivity.

In this training, however, we will define investigative internet as making use of the tremendous amount of information in the internet for finding facts, backgrounds, context, and simply investigating the stories we are working on. In today’s Tanzania, this is surely one of the most important areas to focus on in journalism training, both for students and professionals.

High expectations for the training week

A new training day is already far, and the participants are working on a research and writing assignment.

This time we have in class a real Dream Team, which is concentrating hard on the topics, debating with good arguments and publishing their stories mostly on time. During lunch time today, many decided to go late for the meal and rather stayed by their computers to continue with their assignment.

Below are some links to the participants’ first introductory postings, where they were supposed to introduce themselves and list their expectations for the training days to come.

Erick Mchome, features writer at The Citizen newspaper, says that from this training he expects to learn more about how to use the internet as a source for different background information that he will need for his stories. “This will also help me to see ideas done outside my region and localize them for my local readers”, he concludes.

Ali Othman from Zanzibar Press Club and correspondent for the Changamoto newspaper says that he hopes that he will learn a lot about investigative journalism, but he also wishes to be able to teach others who would like to make investigative journalism through the internet.

Heres a longer list of expectations from the training by Flora Rugashoborola, news editor at Star TV in Mwanza.

And heres an amusing introduction by Masembe Tambwe from Daily News. He says he expects to learn new and interesting techniques on investigative journalism as well as to network. “My belt is fastened and I am ready to go to the world beyond”, he writes.

Links to the training blogs of all other participants are now found in the column on the right.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Press invaded the internet training class

This is my first posting from a training course on investigative internet journalism arranged here at the Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC) at the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania.

The training course is part of an internet training programme for Tanzanian journalists co-arranged by MISA Tanzania and VIKES Foundation, a solidarity organization of the Union of Journalists in Finland, with support from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

This training is the second investigative internet journalism training and already the 19th internet training course altogether arranged within the programme which has been running since 2008. Other previous internet courses have focused on editors from national mainstream media, radio producers, and local reporters and journalism lecturers in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar and Arusha. During the last two years, Swahili-language training courses have been arranged for local reporters and regional correspondents in Morogoro, Iringa, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Mbeya and Mtwara.

Today, I’m honoured to be in class with some of the best journalists and journalism lecturers in the country. There are ten participants from six national newspapers, one national TV station and three institutions for journalism education. Most of the participants have attended similar training courses before, and several are also conducting internet training either at their universities or at the regional training events organized within this same programme.

The morning was hectic as our class was invaded by a large group of local journalists. The representatives of the media came to report about the event and made interviews with the participants and Jussi Nummelin, the Second Secretary from the Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam, who gave a speech to open the course. It was a good speech, encouraging the participants to continue working hard against all challenges in order to inform  the public and keep the government accountable to the people.

More of the training day later.