The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

CIJ 2021: A Year in Review

We mainly spent 2021 online, yet we managed to travel far and wide. From training all over the world to opening an “office” in Lagos. Here is our year in review.

2021 at a glance

  • Number of online scheduled courses: 101
  • Number of online bespoke training courses: 33
  • Number of people attending our training: just over 1650
  • Number of people attending talks and events: over 1000
  • Number of outreach training programmes: 6
  • Number of training programme fellows: 184
  • Number of countries reached: 51
  • Number of online events and conferences: 2
  • Number of in-person events and conferences: 0
  • Number of Zoom meetings: lost count
  • Number of people joining the CIJ team: 2 (1 in London + 1 in Lagos)

From our director

Happy Christmas and a happy and healthy new year from everyone at the CIJ. As you’ll see below, we’ve been enormously busy expanding around the world even in the headwinds of a global pandemic. Next year, and Covid-permitting, we’ll be presenting our brand new Source Protection Programme at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, and hosting the latest of our regional conferences in association with the Imagine Belfast festival in Northern Ireland.

Whether Covid permits it or not, we’ll be taking our quality, small-group investigative training to even more regions and continents around the world, initially online – to Anglophone and Francophone Africa, Latin America and Asia. We’ll also be running classroom-based training in the UK as soon as the pandemic permits. Then there’s the twentieth CIJ Summer Investigative Journalism Conference, which we plan to hold at the beginning of July 2022. Mark the date in your calendar, and see you there!

New recruits and the Lagos “Office”

We were delighted to welcome two new people to the CIJ team.

Beth Blackmore joined the CIJ in the summer of 2021 from a learning & development consultancy in the non-profit sector. At the CIJ she provides coordination for training, projects and events.

Adeolu Adekola, formerly from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, joined the CIJ in the autumn to manage its Open Climate Reporting Initiative (OCRI). This is a new post created to oversee a two-year programme of training in investigative skills with the aim of raising the standard of climate-focused investigations.

Adeolu’s sitting room is the CIJ’s new “office” in Lagos. Nearly two years of covid-induced working online helped us integrate our London and Lagos bases very quickly, but we are planning to see a good deal of Adeolu in London and throughout our international work.

Source Protection Programme

The Source Protection Programme is an advanced information security syllabus provided free for freelance journalists delivered by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Freedom of The Press Foundation.

The pilot programme ran from 10 May – 30 June 2021 and consisted of eight weeks of online training, workshops, guest lectures and masterclasses from some of the world’s leading journalists, investigators and security researchers.

The speakers and trainers included: Iona Craig (a freelance journalist and CIJ board member), a Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning journalist Barton Gellman (The Atlantic), Laura Poitras (filmmaker, Citizenfour), Trevor Timm and Harlo Holmes (the Freedom of Press Foundation), Dr. Omar Mohammed (aka Mosul Eye, historian) to name but a few. See the full list here.

#CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference 2021 Online

It had to be online again. But we did it better this year!

The event took place on 5-8 July and we almost doubled the number of attendees compared to 2020.

922 people attended in 2021 from a wide range of countries: Canada, India, Australia, USA, Mexico, Russia, Kenya, Vietnam to name but a few, plus a good many non-London based participants in the UK.

While still not as fun as the “real” conference, the online format enables us to reach people all over the world.

Once again, we were delighted to welcome some excellent speakers:

Wa Lone delivered our annual Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Lecture. Together with his colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, he was arrested while reporting on military abuses of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State.

Associated Press’s Global Investigations Editor Ron Nixon spoke to Sheila Coronel about his journalistic career.

Covid-19 was naturally still on the agenda and this year we focused on India. No Country Left Behind? The Indian Covid-19 Catastrophe featured Supriya Sharma (, Shadab Nazmi (BBC South Asia), Natasha Loder, (The Economist) and was moderated by India-based journalist Lou Del Bello.

Reporting Russia: Independent Journalism Under Putin focused on the situation in Russia. Sadly, though perhaps predictably, the freedom of the press situation there got worse very quickly and half of our panelists had to leave the country for fear of prosecution, while all their publications were declared “Foreign Agents”.

Dale Maharidge and Mary O’Hara spoke about Reporting Poverty.

Erick Kabendera and Michela Wrong spoke to Rosalind Russell about Investigating Africa.

You can watch all CIJSummer Videos on our YouTube channel.

#CIJSummer Conference is supported by the Lorana Sullivan UK Foundation.

CIJ around the world

Latin America:

Following on from last year’s successful pilot programme in Latin America, and supported by funding from the Reva and David Logan Foundation, we have developed and delivered an investigative training programme for the region.

Working in partnership with Fundación Gabo and the Centro Latinoamericano de Periodismo de Investigación (CLIP), we delivered two rounds of training, each for 12 participants, with workshops and CIJ-produced materials translated into Spanish. In total 270 people applied for the course, and Fundación Gabo told us it was one of the most wanted courses they’d ever had.

India and Nepal:

In June and July, with support from the Bertha Foundation, we held pilot data workshops in Nepal and India, and an advanced search workshop in India. All the data workshops were very well attended. The Nepal training was done in partnership with the Centre for Investigative Journalism Nepal, who followed up the workshop with mentoring, and stories have been published that drew on the skills learned in the training.

Impact of Covid-19 Infection and Lockdown on the Nature of Crime: Decreased Organized and Social Crime, Increased Suicide and Violence Against Women. By Bidhur Dhakal for PahiloPost.

The pandemic has led to unemployment, increased depression and suicide. By Bidhya Rai, Kantipur for National Daily.

Francophone Africa:

We have now finalised the dates for our final round of Bertha Foundation‘s funded pilots, and will be running four workshops in February. We will soon be putting out a call for applications for this training.

#CIJLyraMcKee Investigative Journalism Bursary and Mentoring Scheme

The second CIJ Lyra McKee Bursary Scheme concluded in November. The final session marked the graduation of seven trainees, six of whom presented story pitches to a line-up of editors: Emily Wilson (The Bureau Local), Jess Brammar (the BBC) and Martin Williams (openDemocracy).

The CIJ Lyra McKee Investigative Journalism Training Bursary Scheme was established in memory of a young and courageous Irish investigative journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead by dissident republicans in Derry in April 2019.

This year’s CIJ Lyra McKee Bursary Scheme was held fully online and offered mentoring from journalists Emma Youle and Jenna Corderoy alongside training.

One of the trainees said of the scheme: “I think it’s a really generous scheme that genuinely wants to equip people with the skills to further themselves. The addition of mentoring felt vital to me. I’ve been for job interviews where the interviewer was very impressed with the fact I was on the scheme. Thanks so much.

We are very proud of our 2021 alumni. Over the course of the programme and assisted by the mentors, most participants secured journalism jobs and internships following their training at #CIJSummer Conference, a fantastic measure of the programme’s success.

These include positions at BBC Scotland Disclosure team, The Times, Deutsche Welle, and BBC Humberside. Three enrolled in an NCTJ course and one trainee got a place on the BBC Future Voices Scheme for bilingual reporters. Cherise Hamilton won Gold for The Creativity Award and Bronze for Best Current Affairs Podcast from Brit Pod Awards 2021.

The CIJ Lyra McKee Bursary scheme is funded by the Lorana Sullivan UK Foundation and the Lyra McKee Foundation.

Applications for the CIJ Lyra McKee Bursary Scheme 2022 will open early next year.

#CIJMasterclass with Stephen Grey and friends

Eleven trainees attended six sessions curated by award-winning investigative journalist Stephen Grey of Reuters.

Places on the masterclass are free and were made available via open competition and application. Priority was given to those from under-privileged and non-traditional backgrounds, without existing connections to the national media, who have demonstrated talent and a commitment to truth-telling journalism.

Speakers included:

Ben Plesser, award-winning producer and executive news producer, formerly of NBC News and CBS’s 60 Minutes.

Steve Stecklow, a senior Reuters investigative reporter and a double Pulitzer Prize winner.

Tom Bergin, Reuters business correspondent, winner of the Orwell Prize and European Press Prize for uncovering Starbucks’ and Vodafone’s failure to pay significant UK tax.

Juliette Garside, deputy business editor of the Guardian and the Observer.

Paul Nuki, Global Health Security Editor at The Telegraph.

This was our second Masterclass programme after the initiative launched in 2019.

Collaborative Community Journalism Project

After successfully transitioning our work online during 2020, we were able to run the first Collaborative Community Journalism programme this year, working closely with community journalism organisations in four London boroughs to support their efforts to nurture the talent of early career journalists and investigate the issues that matter to the communities they serve.

In March 2021 we recruited four young journalists to form our first cohort of Investigative Fellows. Each of the young people had strong ties to their borough and were assigned to the relevant community journalism outlet. The Fellows were also connected to campaign groups working on the issues affecting their local communities.

Over the course of the project Fellows were supported by their editors, campaign groups and the CIJ to develop their investigative research skills and produce an in-depth piece of local reporting. Funding for the project came from the Trust for London and provided paid research and support time for the outlets and the Fellows, as well as access to CIJ training programmes and additional assistance such as legal advice.

The published pieces cover topics ranging from knife crime to social care to temporary housing and can be read below.

Waltham Forest: Waltham Forest Echo Marcia Veiga
The long shadow of Waltham Forest’s knife crime

Greenwich: 853Yohannes Lowe
‘Smoke and mirrors’ hide cuts hitting Greenwich’s most vulnerable people
NHS bosses threatened Greenwich Council with auditors over social care cuts

Lewisham: The Lewisham LedgerRosario Blue
Publication due soon

Enfield: Enfield DispatchSabah Husain
The reality of living in temporary accommodation
The scale of Enfield’s housing crisis

A big thank you to our loyal trainers

Lots of people support our work, but none more than our loyal trainers. A big thank you goes to all of them. They continue to develop themselves and bring some of the most cutting-edge investigative training to all of you.

Jonathan Stoneman and Leila Haddou (data journalism), Mark Lee Hunter and Luuk Sengers (Story-based Inquiry method), Irving Huerta and Guy Porter (Digital Tools for Investigation), Paul Bradshaw (web scraping), Dylan Kennedy (Financial Investigation).

2021 has been a busy year for us. But our biggest achievements are not what we do in the office, they are what our trainees, trainers and speakers do in the field. So If you ever attended a CIJ event and what you learned there helped you with your investigative work, let us know. We love having our very own “wall of fame” with your names on it.

If your aim is to change the world”, said Tom Stoppard, “journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”  It’s a weapon more important and necessary than ever.

Here’s to a happy 2022!

The CIJ Team