Aug-Sep 2012 newsletter

From an exciting new crowd-sourcing project, to results from our West African Transnational Investigation, to award winning presentations in Lusaka, to a new professional investigative journalism gathering in Nairobi, FAIR’s calendar almost spun out of control during August and September.

Africa 911 hotline

During August FAIR entered into the Africa News Innovation Challenge with a project idea titled ‘Africa Investigated’. The concept seeks to provide a service for communities in Africa to report social injustices via text messages, for investigation and publication by media. Read the full ANIC entry

FAIR’s network of investigative journalists (more than 100 in 40 countries across Africa) are in a goo d position to follow up on social injustice messages from citizens.  Radio colleagues in Ghana and DRC have announced that they are set to start broadcasting the ‘911 FAIR’ link up.  We just need some technical experts to help to spread it out.  

FAIR subsequently read a commendation of our project in the emerging markets newsletter Ventureburn:  US citizens can report crimes by texting 911. A group of investigative journalists called the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) wants to take it a step further. With mobile taking off in Africa — the latest figure by GSM puts the number of mobile phones in Africa at 650 million — the group would like to create a service for communities in Africa to report social injustices via text messages, for investigation and publication by media. It’s a crime reporting and lead generation service in one. Read more

However after a disappointing run in the ANIC competition we have re-branded the crowdsourcing project as “Africa 911 Hotline”, and now seeking new sponsors to kick-start the project.  The FreePress Unlimited grant funding will be able to support the development of a ‘mobile application’, but this applies to smart-phones. The new project will be based on simple mobile phone SMS technology and will require startup costs to register a free number in each country. More updates to follow.

East Africa

During August and September investigative professionals in the FAIR network from East Africa focused on a spate of killings in Somalia and Kenya, related to terrorism and counter-terrorism, including the targeting of Al Shabaabs’ leadership. Muhyadin Ahmed Roble listed the targets

On Kenya’s NTV, CNN Award winner John-Allan Namu juxtaposed increasing security budgets with increased terror with more than 200 victims to date in Kenya, and, in total this year, one conviction by the Kenyan police. See the video.

And Irin’s Noor Ali, in Kenya’s rural Isiolo region, went beyond the usual ‘tribal clashes’ explanation to conclude that “the killings have a political component related to redrawing of political boundaries and next year’s general elections.” Read the full story.

All of the above journalists presented their experiences and tipsheets to more than 40 journalists, editors and media representatives in Kenya during September 2012, to discuss issues around ‘War on Terror in East Africa: security, elections and transparency. Read more about the conference. 

The conference programme, which combined national case study presentations with technical skills training, was organized by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) with support from the Open Society Institute East Africa (OSIEA), the Kenya Media Programme (KMP), the Tanzania Media Fund (TMF) and the Great Lakes Media Institute (GLMI, Rwanda & US).

The east Africa regional conference set the stage for new cross-border investigations, capacity building programmes and national stories to be undertaken by FAIR during 2013. There is a pledge from the Tanzania Media Foundation to support local investigative journalists with small grants.

West Africa

In West Africa, the regional Transnational Investigation on ‘Fair Trade in the Cocoa industry’, which started at the investigative journalism in Dakar during April 2012, is starting to bear fruit. Farmers in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon told our team of Chief Bisong Etahoben, Selay Kouassi, Benjamin Tetteh and Aniefiok Undonquak very similar stories. Want to know what the story is?  In a months’ time we will release it, fittingly on the eve of the World Cocoa Conference in Abidjan. 

In August, the irrepressible Anas Aremeyaw Anas in Ghana filmed undercover in the ‘treatment rooms’ of a particularly disgusting Accra-based abortion quack. The ‘doctor’, caught on tape, was raping girls and women who came to him to terminate their pregnancies, saying that ‘they must be opened up for the procedure to succeed’.  Again, Anas used his camera and his undercover methods to highlight the hellish situations that seem to be normality for those who don’t have access to professional safe and hygienic clinics. See “Undercover In Theater: Ghana’s ‘Sexy Lord’ of Abortion”  and  MyJoy online

During September, Selay Marius Kouassi investigated howIvorian scrap yard metalworkers get creative’. Read the full story on Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 

In Nigeria, FAIR member and CPJ west Africa consultant, Peter Nkanga,  highlighted the case of Benedict Uwalaka, a photojournalistwith Leadership Newspapers who on August 9 was brutally assaulted at a government hospital in Lagos State. The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) says it is supporting Uwalaka in pursuing the case to its conclusion, rather than settling out of court, as a deterrent against future abuse of journalists. Read more

Southern Africa

During August, FAIR completed one phase of a peer mentoring programme at the New Vision paper based in Lusaka Zambia. Mentor Charles Rukuni was on-site for two weeks in order to help the journalists produce a series of investigative articles. The programme is funded by Hivos.

FAIR members Rob Rose, Stephan Hofstatter and Mzilikazi wa Afrika who are employed by the Sunday Times, received three awards in the Standard Bank Sikuvile Newspaper journalism competition (August 2012) for the story ‘Inside a South African Police Death Squad.’ Read more here.

The Sunday Times investigations team also presented case studies on mining issues at the southern African regional investigative journalism conference titled “ Digging up dirt on southern Africa mining deals”, which was hosted by FAIR in partnership with PANOS in Lusaka (Zambia) during 13-15 August. Read about the conference and access links to presentations. 

In South Africa, the Marikana massacre of striking miners was investigated by online newspaper the Daily Maverick (edited by former FAIR ‘mentee’ Mandy de Waal.)  Author Greg Marinovich undertook a  ground-breaking investigations in early September about possible murder by the South African Police. Read the article online 

In Grahamstown (South Africa) FAIR was an exhibitor at the annual Highway Africa media conference held at Rhodes University during September 9-11. A number of new members were recruited in the FAIR network, and others expressed great interest. FAIR director Abdullah Vawda focused his networking efforts and distribution of FAIR materials amongst the continents’ Editors, media owners and donor agencies. We hope to have a speaker session at Highway Africa next year.   

FAIR AGM & Power Reporting 2012: the African Investigative Journalism Conference

The FAIR Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Sunday 28 October 2012 at Orion Devonshire Hotel, in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.  Spaces are limited!

Registration to all journalists is open for ‘Power Reporting 2012: the African Investigative Journalism Conference’, to be hosted by FAIR and Wits University during October 29-31.

Join us for a stimulating experience with fellow African investigative journalists and other media professionals.  The final programme will be available soon.  Read more here 

** Note: we are preparing our narrative and financial documents for the AGM,and they will be sent to updated members only.  If you don’t receive an AGM invite-plus-documents, please contact Sindisiwe Kubeka at the FAIR office (Tel: +2711 482 8493, email: to check on your membership status.

[FAIR is interested in empowering and encouraging African journalists to deepen their investigative skills, access more information and liaise with more publishing outlets. Let us know what you think of our website and activities. We need your feedback to grow our strength as a professional association and to improve our services.]  


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