The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

CIJ 2020: A Year in Review

What a year! We almost forgot what happened in January-February, since all of it has been totally overshadowed by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Since this is a year in review, let’s start from the beginning.

#CIJLyraMcKee Investigative Journalism Training Bursary Scheme

2020 would have been the second year of our CIJ Lyra McKee bursary scheme. Established in remembrance of Lyra McKee a Northern Irish journalist, who was shot in Creggan in 2019, it aims to diversify investigative journalism, by training people from underrepresented backgrounds and providing them with the skills and contacts needed to break into the industry.

We were inspired by Lyra’s determination to become an investigative journalist: despite personal disability, the need to care for her disabled mother as well as fighting the in-built bias against working-class entrants to journalism.

Two big launch events took place in Belfast, Lyra’s home city and in Hull, with the hope of attracting a diverse number of applicants.

Sadly, Covid-19 put an end to all of it, as we had to cancel the in-person #CIJCummer Investigative Journalism Training Conference 2020, which was the prize for all the bursary recipients.

But we are delighted to announce that the #CIJLyraMcKee Investigative Journalism Training Bursary Scheme will be back in 2021. It will have a slightly different format, but it will stay true to its aim: opening doors into the world of investigative journalism to people who are underrepresented in the media.


Adapting our Training to the Pandemic

As for many around the world, the rapid spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns have forced us into a virtual world.

In the past, we have explored the possibility of delivering training online so that we could reach a wider audience – those who couldn’t afford to to travel, or specialised training and support over a longer period that wouldn’t be practicable for trainers or delegates to travel to and from – but such was the demand for classroom-based training, this had never moved beyond the planning stage. Until now.

Our training is effective because it is hands-on and highly participatory. We couldn’t just record some videos or send the participants a bunch of materials to master at home and call it CIJ training.

Instead we spent the spring testing a new participatory online format and as a result came up with a busy programme of online courses, which we have been delivering throughout the year: from data journalism for all levels to investigative methodology, from scheduled courses to bespoke.

All have been sold out and immensely successful.

“Experienced trainers, great content and lots of practical examples. Good advert, easy to book, clear joining instructions.” Story Based Inquiry Method course feedback 2020.

“I particularly appreciated Jonathan’s generous availability in between sessions to help and discuss things I was grappling with. I also really enjoyed the hands-on practical nature of the course.” Finding Stories With Data course feedback 2020.

“Jenna Corderoy is amazing. She was involved, engaged, asking questions, and an all around star in sharing her experiences, successes, and knowledge.” Freedom of Information Act (FOI) for Journalists course feedback 2020.

See the 2021 Scheduled Courses here.


#CIJSummer Conference 2020 Online

Encouraged by the success of the online training, we decided not to cancel our annual #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Training conference, but hold it online instead.

It was a much scaled down affair, but we had over 500 people attending practical courses and free talks from all over the world. Over 60% of the audience had never attended #CIJSummer before. The majority mentioned distance, time and affordability as the reason.

“It is an excellent programme that is very educational, interesting, useful and entertaining.” Feedback 2020.

“The CIJ conference was exactly what I was looking for to begin helping to bridge the gap in my knowledge and boost my confidence.” Feedback 2020.

You can watch all the #CIJSummer 2020 Free Talks on our YouTube Channel, including a Covid-19 in numbers discussion with data journalists, our annual Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Lecture delivered by Turkish editor and journalist Can Dündar, a SPAC Nation Church exposé by our alumna Nadine White and award-winning journalist Emma Youle, health and science journalism discussions and much more.


Going Big: #CIJLogan2020 Symposium. Collective Intelligence.

Come November, we were ready for our big event of the year #CIJLogan2020 Symposium.

Collective Intelligence featured some of the most famous journalists, artists, activists, whistleblowers, lawyers and writers.

Some of the highlights include:

Ai Weiwei in Conversation with Edward Snowden

Our opening plenary with Edwy Plenel, Jennifer Robinson and Christophe Deloire, and keynotes from Hatice Cengiz and Stella Moris

The New Intermediaries with William Bourdon and Clive Stafford Smith

I’ve Been Hacked! with Dan McCrum, John Scott-Railton, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Runa Sandvik

Blowing the Whistle with Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz and Delphine Halgand-Mishra

Talks from our partners:

Digging Italy with DIG Awards (Italy)

The Trial of Golden Dawn with Reporters United (Greece)

Follow the Data: Corruption, Leaks & People vs. Power with Disruption Network Lab (Germany)

As well as Masterclasses on FOIA, Open Corporates and Investigating Procurement.

You can watch all the #CIJLogan2020 Symposium talks on our YouTube Channel.

You can read the media coverage of the event here.


Access to Tools Training

Access To Tools was the first of the CIJ training to go online and this online version of the Access to Tools (ATT) training targeted to UK newsrooms is now a well oiled machine.

Since mid-April, when the first online ATT workshop launched, we’ve delivered 13 OSINT training workshops to over 100  individuals across the UK. We’ve found that rather than training for individual newsrooms, as was the case when workshops were in person, individuals are attending from beyond those locations, and from bigger groups. For example, the Newsquest training had participants from newsrooms across the UK: Mold, Brighton, London, North West, Yorkshire and North East, and the Midlands, and delegates who were unable to attend this session were able to join the freelance session, held a few weeks later.
By keeping the number of delegates to a smaller number than the in-person workshops, we have been able to provide a strong element of the hands-on training that makes our workshops so popular.


CIJ Christmas 2020 Reading and Listening List

It’s this time of year again, when no doubt you will have lots of time to spare and will use it to enhance your intellect by listening to cool journalism podcasts and reading books. We definitely will be doing that (what else is there to do?), so here is our list.


And a Happy New Year!

So we look to 2021 with hope and not just because the new vaccines may control the pandemic and we all may meet again in real life, but because 2020 taught us how to be resilient and adaptive.

Even when things “get back to normal” we’ll still be offering online training in addition to our more traditional classroom offer. In 2021 we have big plans to spread our training, and evangelise for investigative journalism in collaboration with local partners, everywhere from Francophone Africa to India, from Pakistan to Latin America.

Watch this space. And happy holidays!

The CIJ Team.

CIJ Christmas 2020 Reading and Listening List

It’s this time of year again, when no doubt you will have lots of time to spare and will use it to enhance your intellect by listening to cool journalism podcasts and reading books. We definitely will be doing that (what else is there to do?), so here is our list.