The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

Welcome to #CIJSummer 2021

Welcome to the 19th annual #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference – the second, and almost certainly the last, to take place entirely online.

Working throughout a global pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, not least for investigative journalists and those working to help them. How do we find new sources when it’s almost impossible to meet, and how do we keep those sources safe when it’s only possible to talk to them online?

It’s also, however, presented unparalleled opportunities for learning new skills. At the CIJ, the last fifteen months has been a period of unprecedented renewal and expansion. We’ve completely redeveloped our training curriculum for a more global audience online, and thought up new ways to broaden both the audience for investigative journalism and the demographics of those attracted to the profession.

Our Lyra McKee initiative, two years old, has now been expanded into a fully-fledged, online-based mentorship programme. Our Collaborative Community Journalism Project, building capacity and training fellowships to fledgling new outlets across London, began its work almost entirely online.

Earlier this year, together with the Freedom of The Press Foundation, we launched the Source Protection Programme (SSP), a first comprehensive new information security programme (provided free for freelance journalists) to a class of investigative journalists from all around the world. The SPP emerged from our 4th international CIJ Logan Symposium in November and it’s high-level membership include everyone from Jessica Bruder to Laura Poitras, from Omar Mohammed to Barton Gellman, together with a great new faculty of information security trainers from around the world.

In the Autumn, we’re launching a second iteration of our of Masterclass programme, once again aimed at getting the best and the brightest of the disadvantaged into investigative journalism, and once again led by the Reuters investigative journalist Stephen Grey. This time, however, it will be delivered entirely online.

But that’s not all. As we’ve spread our wings internationally since Covid-19, we’re now running bespoke training programmes for investigative journalists everywhere from Indonesia to Cambodia to Vietnam to India. We’re also, for the first time, delivering training everywhere from the United States to Pakistan to Nepal. Those training programmes turned out to be only the beginning. Following a highly successful pilot in Mexico last year, we’re now building brand new training initiative aimed at journalists throughout Latin America. With that under our belt, this year we launched similar pilots in Francophone Africa and India.

It’s only the beginning. In the next two and a half years, thanks to fresh investment, we’ll roll out a brand new programme to train and support investigative journalists which will give the CIJ a real presence in just about every continent, region and corner of the planet.

All those regional and international programmes come together at #CIJSummer – it’s our main experimental laboratory and networking event, a meeting place and a melting pot for new friends, new trainers and new investigative journalists.

This year’s faculty reflects our growing international interests. Michela Wrong discusses the practical and moral dilemmas of how to get access to and report from war-torn Africa; three investigative journalists from Russia talk about the new techniques which help journalists there uncover the truth about corruption; Ron Nixon from Associated Press talks about how to build and run a genuinely global investigation across international borders. Rana Ayyub, Natasha Loder and Shadab Nazmi track the catastrophe of Covid-19 in India. Wa Lone, the Myanmar journalist imprisoned for eighteen months for his investigation into a massacre there in 2017, gives the prestigious annual Gavin MacFadyen lecture.

When Covid-19 finally abates, life won’t be quite the same as before. Nor will the kind of high-quality, small-group, investigative training that the CIJ offers; much of what we do will be across a broader range of media and more focused, more deeply and interactive and resilient, more vibrantly international. For now though, take your pick, in the different rhythms of the online world, from a truly global smorgasbord of training and discussion at CIJ Summer. As we venture outside in the coming months, and in the run up to our exciting 20th anniversary next year, we look forward to seeing you in the flesh.

James Harkin

James Harkin is the director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism. He is a journalist who covers social change and political conflict and whose work appears in Vanity Fair, Harper’s, GQ, The Smithsonian, Prospect and the Guardian.