21 April 2014

East Africa: Journalists Commit to Fighting Graft

Journalists from Eastern Africa have expressed commitment to objective reporting as a way to stem corruption that remains the most daunting challenge to good governance, sustainable economic growth and development in Africa.

This is one of the resolutions reached after a five-day training of trainers on Investigative Journalism and Corruption Reporting.

The training took place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and drew more than 20 participants from 11 countries grouped under the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA).

The trainees noted that corruption had been ravaging almost all the African countries despite efforts and conventions signed by the same countries to reverse the trend.

One of the examples is the Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption signed in Maputo on July 11, 2003 that came into force in 2006 and was adopted by member states of the African Union(AU). A total of 34 counties out of 54 have ratified the Convention.

Participants were taken through various manifestations of corruption and how media practitioners who are considered as the watchdog for the ordinary people should fight the vice through objective reporting.

The Ethiopian minister for Communication and Information Technology, Debretsion Gebremichael, while addressing the trainees, stressed the need for African leaders to work with media to fight corruption, while promoting freedom of expression on the continent.

One of the trainers, Caleb Athemi, a senior media consultant and veteran journalist, said reporting positively on corruption had been a serious challenge to media practitioners.

He recalled how he was arrested and jailed several times because of his reporting when he was a reporter working for various newspapers in his country, Kenya.

He, however, said that nothing can prevent journalists to stick to their profession and remain watchdogs of the ordinary citizens.

He urged media outlets to invest in investigative and corruption reporting as it makes impact.

"Investigative journalism and corruption reporting make impact, help focus attention, enrich public debate, help sell newspapers and widen scope of journalism," Athemi said.

He highlighted patience, resilience, caution, fairness, passion, curiosity, logical thinking and discipline are crucial tools in investigative journalism.

"Corruption is a cross cutting issue and affects the development of our countries. It is also something we have been fighting for years and this training has boosted our skills on reporting about corruption," said Christopher Opoka Amanjur, from Southern Sudan.

He conceded that there were cases of corruption he had failed to report on due to limited skills.

Another participant from Seychelles, Henrie Gervais, said the training was a great opportunity to equip participants with knowledge in corruption and investigative reporting.

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