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PoliticsAddis co-hosts continental investigative journalism summit

Addis co-hosts continental investigative journalism summit

For the first time since it was launched 17 years ago, the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) came to Addis Ababa, a city that co-hosted the event in hybrid online and offline discussions in Nairobi, Abuja, Dakar, and Johannesburg.

The conference was organized by International Media Support (IMS) and Fojo Media Institute (Fojo), in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, from October 11-13, 2021 at Addis Hilton.

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International Media Support (IMS) is a civic service entity registered in Ethiopia to engage in capacity building of the media to reduce conflict, strengthen democracy and facilitate dialogue. Fojo Media Institute, on the other hand, is an independent Swedish institution at Linnaeus University, which focuses on media development, strengthening free, independent and professional journalism.

The IMS-Fojo Programme Manager, Sofie Gullberg, said that the conference showcased some of Africa’s best journalists sharing knowledge, experience, and networking, and offered training in the latest investigative tools and techniques.

“I thought of having this conference in Ethiopia to make it possible for experts in this field to network and share experiences with each other. The conference tries to be inclusive across the regions with a gender representation. Moreover, almost all active media organisations in Ethiopia are invited. It is a great contribution to skill sharing for those participating from Ethiopia,” she said.

Lance Tallert, the Head of Policy and International Development at Fojo Media Institute said that the trust in journalism is at its historic low; and revenue is also at its historic low because of impacts from social media and fierce competition in the market from big Tech giants such as Google and Facebook who take 70 percent of digital revenue.

Tallert highlighted that journalism can be made sustainable in the sense that it provides people with the information they need to make informed decision and hold people in power to account.

According to him, journalism is currently faced with two major challenges: sustainability crisis facing the society and sustainability crisis facing journalism itself. While the former is linked with climate change, poverty and crumbling democracies, the later is concerned about erosion of revenue, media capture, disinformation, authoritarian governments, failed public trust and fierce competition with social media companies.

 “The algorithms for social media are made like the more sensational you are, the more attention you get. But quality journalism is the very opposite of being sensational. It is about being balanced. So, we see that the entire structure of the social media landscape is actually against quality investigative journalist,” he stressed.

Panelists from Ethiopia also indicated that the country’s journalism faces challenges from lack of independence, professional leadership, capacity (both human and financial), access to information as well as the digital technology.

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