Across the world, but especially in Africa, those who point out mismanagement and corruption are often considered more dangerous than those actually responsible for it. Working as an investigative journalist in such an environment takes extraordinary courage; the kind of courage that is underpinned by a deep caring for the plight of the powerless.
Investigative journalism in Africa needs people who are prepared and committed to go the extra mile, because they often operate in environments that seem by default designed to shut them down. Repressive media laws, lack of resources and a widespread culture of secrecy among officials are but a few of the challenges facing journalists questioning the conduct of those in power and the money and connections which go with it.
In this context, journalists need to have a particular mindset in addition to a wide range of skills. With these Investigative Journalism Manuals, we make the necessary skills and tools available to journalists currently practicing their craft, and to the many that will hopefully follow their trailblazing path. Consequently, these manuals include a foundation section aimed at those new to the field, and also advanced material for the more experienced practitioners.
The Investigative Journalism Manuals are not your average journalism textbook. These manuals are unique in that it is a training kit, while at the same time serving as a general source of information and inspiration. Furthermore and crucially, its content has been and will be produced by African journalists, and the case studies reflect the continent’s reality. The Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) as well as the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) deserve credit for allowing us to use some of their material which has been tailored to suit an African context.
Journalists are generally considered to be the watchdogs of society. But it is those colleagues who – despite the threats and bribes – expose the abuse of power, who can rightfully claim this title. Journalists in general and investigative journalists in particular, play a critical and indispensable role in any society, even more so in societies where effective democratic checks and balances are lacking. It is our hope that African journalists will make use of what the manuals has to offer, and that the results of their work will strengthen existing democratic institutions, or serve as a catalyst to establish democratic structures where there are none.
My special thanks go to Evelyn Groenink who coordinated this input, and to the editor of the first eight chapters Gwen Ansell, and to all those who contributed to this project. The Power Reporting Workshop of the University of the Witwatersrand deserves mention, especially Birgit Schwarz and Margaret Renn. Our gratitude goes to those FAIR members who not only made some of their case studies available, but who also, as part of a core advisory group, critiqued on the first drafts which in turn helped to improve and optimise the content.
The IJM are work in progress. While the initial Chapters 1 – 8 mark the foundation of the project, additional specialized chapters are in the pipeline.
Therefore, I would like to encourage users to give us feedback and suggestions in order to improve the manuals.
The media could — and should — be a catalyst for social debate and change. May the profession of investigative reporters on the continent thrive in the interest of Africa and its people.
Director Media Programme
Konrad Adenauer Foundation