CIJ 2022 – a Year in Review
I used to be an investigative reporter of some repute, John Hamm tells almost everyone he meets in the new film Confess Fletch – ad nauseam and apropos of nothing. The truth is that everyone, on some level, wants to be an investigative journalist. At the CIJ we’re here to help.
Twenty years in, and it’s going rather well. From the pandemic to the war in Ukraine the last few years have been awful for lots of people, including ourselves in different ways, but what’s helped to keep us going at the CIJ is our sudden and quite unexpected growth and expansion beyond the UK.
The CIJ is now training almost everywhere in the world. In the last year or so we’ve been active everywhere from Costa Rica to Colombia, from Burkina Faso to Benin, from Bangkok to Kathmandu. And all that in addition to our growing presence throughout the UK with our Access to Tools programme, our Lyra McKee bursary scheme which aims to get people into investigative journalism who don’t have any convenient middle-class or family connections to the industry, and our ongoing help for non-profit and local investigative outlets around the country. As part of our bespoke programmes, the CIJ is now also training some of the world’s most prestigious newsrooms in investigative techniques.
Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last twelve months, in detail and in numbers:
Open Climate Reporting Initiative (OCRI)
In April, the Open Climate Reporting Initiative (OCRI) started the first year of its work after months of research and preliminary engagements. Starting with a pilot programme in Nepal, we partnered with the Center for Data Journalism Nepal (CDJN) to teach OSINT and deep data dive tools to 12 Nepali journalists producing investigative pieces on the environment and climate change. Out of the seven stories selected for support after the training, four of them have been published so far. We are glad to see that one of the supported stories has prompted steps to address the problems raised from the authorities responsible.
So far, we have worked in 3 regions for the first year of OCRI, which runs until March 2023. They are Latin America (excluding Brazil), Anglophone Africa and Francophone Africa. We have heavily leveraged partnerships to train 239 and directly reach nearly 700 journalists, researchers and activists/environmentalists in 37 countries. With our 10 partners across the regions, we have hosted no less than 38 different forms of in-person and virtual engagements. These have been in the form of curriculum development meetings; train-the-trainer sessions; hands-on training workshops; learning & sharing sessions; masterclasses; tools demos; conference panels and a public launch.
All this work has set us up in an excellent position to deliver the second year of the programme across new regions of the world, which will be announced in spring 2023.
#CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference 2022
Our annual flagship training event the #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference took place at Goldsmiths, University of London in June. As always it combined hands-on training in data journalism, FOIA, journalistic methodology, Open Source Intelligence as well as talks from some of the leading UK and international journalists. Meera Jatav, an Indian journalist and a co-founder of the award-winning, grassroots feminist media organisation Khabar Lahariya, delivered our annual Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Lecture on her experiences reporting for and about some of the most marginalised communities in India.
2022 Paul Foot award winner Hannah Al-Othman of The Sunday Times, talked about investigating the British Army, while author and journalist Oliver Bullough spoke to The New York Times’ Jane Bradley about the role of London and other international financial centres in enabling oligarchs, money-launderers and criminals from all over the world to hide their money – and what can be done about it. Award winning Ukrainian investigative journalist and editor of Slidstvo.info Anna Babinets spoke about the rapid adaptation Ukrainian newsrooms had to go through to change their reporting after the Russian invasion.
The next conference will take place at the end of June 2023. Watch this space.
CIJ Lyra McKee Investigative Journalism Training and Bursary Scheme
The aim of our five-month Lyra McKee bursary scheme is to train and mentor people from underprivileged backgrounds, who aspire to become journalists or who are at the very early stages of their journalism career. This year ten people from all over the UK took part.
They attended and trained at the #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference; they also attended online mentoring sessions with Jenna Corderoy (openDemocracy) and Emma Youle (formerly of HuffPostUK). At the end of the programme they pitched their investigative stories to working editors Basia Cummings (Tortoise Media), Emily Wilson (the Bureau Local) and Ramzy Alwakeel (openDemocracy).
This year’s graduates are already making waves in the UK media: the story Francesca Hughes pitched to the editors so impressed them that it was commissioned and published by openDemocracy: Universities ‘illegally hitting disabled students with extra housing costs’. Another graduate Reece Stafferton has started a media co-operative in Leicester! The Great Central Gazette promises “slow, quality news created with sensitivity, calm and care”.
Applications for the CIJ Lyra McKee bursary scheme 2023 will open early next year.
We continued to expand our online scheduled training, adding new courses to our established offer of Data Journalism, Digital Tools and Story-Based Inquiry, all of which ran multiple times with full classes during 2022. In total, we ran 32 scheduled courses this year, training 387 participants.
We developed and rolled out a new course on Financial Investigations, exploring company accounts, financial OSINT and follow-the-money case studies, providing examples for the practical application of investigative skills. This has proven hugely popular and we plan to have dates for more 2023 iterations very soon. We also trialled an Audio Skills Bootcamp course teaching the essentials for creating an investigative podcast – the course will formally launch in January.
Going into 2023 we plan to develop several new scheduled courses as well as continue designing bespoke training for organisations across the world.
We have also been developing our bespoke training provision. Working closely with a wide range of clients, from international NGOs such as Oxfam and OpenOwnership to newsrooms of every size including The i and Good Morning Britain, we’ve put together and delivered 15 tailored training programmes. Specifically designed to address skills gaps and staff development needs, these courses have pushed forward investigative capacity and enhanced stories and reports across several areas, both topical and geographic.
The skills these programmes have covered are as diverse as the clients, but this year we’ve built bespoke courses on:
- Investigative Methodologies
- All aspects of Data Journalism
- Financial Investigations
- Open-Source Intelligence
- Environmental and Supply Chain Research
- Freedom of Information
During 2022, we’ve continued our work supporting community journalism outlets across London. Supported by the Trust for London, we’ve been delighted to work with four new outlets, helping them dig into the issues that matter to communities in four boroughs.
Newham – Newham Voices
Lambeth – Brixton Bugle
Barnet – Barnet Post
Tower Hamlets – Social Streets
The project has focused on fostering collaborative work between young, up-and-coming journalists – our Investigative Fellows – from each area with established community journalism organisations there. We’ve been able to provide a full range of training opportunities for the Investigative Fellows, taking in the Story-Based Inquiry investigative methodology, Data Journalism skills, Freedom of Information use and Open-Source Intelligence.
The Trust for London’s support for the project has also allowed us to provide financial backing to research projects that constituted the second phase of the project. Time has been covered for both the Fellows and an editor from each outlet while they work on researching a topic of importance to their readership. We look forward to sharing all the published work in the new year.
Belfast Regional Conference
Thanks to generous funding from the Lorana Sullivan Foundation, we held our third regional conference in March at the prestigious MAC gallery in Belfast as part of the popular ‘Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics’. This was our first in-person conference post-covid and we were able to offer:
Two hands-on workshops – advanced investigative skills and finding company information.
Two talks – Spatial Investigations: ‘Why Architecture Matters’, with Swiss artist Gabriela Löffel, and Belfast-based architect Aisling Rusk; and the Bureau Local revealing long delays and hardships for disabled people trying to make their homes more accessible
Our keynote was Belfast-based Chris Moore who spoke about the Kincora scandal and the challenges of doing investigative journalism in Northern Ireland.
“Really fascinating workshops organised by @cijournalism as part of the #Imagine!festival. I personally found the Digital Tools workshop by Tom Sanderson very interesting in explaining the tools to fact-check and verify images/videos with dubious provenance: @ImagineBelfast”
Access to Tools
Access to Tools is a two-hour workshop looking specifically at digital tools that can be used for investigations.
Four of them took place in newsrooms in the East of England (Peterborough, Lincoln, Norwich and Bury St. Edmunds). We also piloted our first library workshop – thanks to Cambridge Library for hosting this and being our guinea pigs.
“Though-provoking”, “brilliant”, and “really useful”.
“The reporters and news editors loved the course – and came away with lots of useful skills that they will be able to use to increase the quality of their content day in, day out.”
The Source Protection Programme
Over the last 12 months alongside our friends at the Freedom of the Press Foundation we’ve begun to roll out our new digital security programme for freelancers and investigators who are in desperate need of protection from increasing threats both on and off-line. Since we launched the programme at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia in April we’ve trained over 400 reporters from more than 65 countries across six continents.
We’ve partnered with a range of press freedom organisations and journalism conferences to reach journalists across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Pacific as well as South and North America. We’ve also started to offer bespoke programmes for newsrooms and media organisations, as well as introduce the material to university journalism students across the UK.
We’re looking forward to 2023 when we’ll be running more free-to-access programmes everywhere from Mexico to Singapore. Look out for announcements early next year. In the meantime, if you’re looking for digital security advice check out Freedom of the Press Foundation’s online resources. If you’re in need of emergency support please get in touch with the team.
Much like Santa’s presents, it wouldn’t have been possible to deliver any of this training without a growing army of helpers and supporters around the world.
We would especially like to thank our trainers Daniel Balint-Kurti, Diogo Augusto, Fabio Natali, Guy Porter, Harlo Holmes, Irving Huerta, Jonathan Stoneman, Leigh Baldwin, Leila Haddou, Luuk Sengers, Mark Lee Hunter, Martin Tomkinson, Orange, Runa Sandvik, Sally Herships, Sam Leon, Tansy Hoskins.
The #CIJLyra McKee bursary scheme would have been impossible without our excellent mentors Jenna Corderoy and Emma Youle, and guest editors Basia Cummings (Editor, Tortoise Studios), Emily Wilson (Editor, The Bureau Local) and Ramzy Alwakeel (Head of News, openDemocracy).
There are of course many more! If you’re one of them – a profound thank you!
If not, please do get involved or come to one of our training sessions in the New Year. In the meantime, and from everyone at the CIJ – wishing you a very Happy Christmas!