Thursday, 26 March 2015

More pictures from the internet training

Sarah Zakayo is radio producer at Kyela FM Community Radio.

Jackson Numbi is Mbeya correspondent of The Citizen.

Baraka Philipo, journalism lecturer at Kyela Polytechnic College.

Felix Mwakyembe from the national weekly newspaper Raia Mwema.

Juma Kibona teaches video production at Loyal College of Africa.

Moses Manyama is the principal at Loyal College of Africa.

Stella Mnishi teaches journalism at Teofilo Kisanji University. Photos by Peik Johansson.

What we are taking home

After completing the assignments on gas in Mtwara and the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania, the participants also wrote their final summaries and feedbacks from the training week, what was especially useful for them, did the training fulfil their expectations, and what challeges there were, or other needs for improvement for upcoming training events.

Again, everyone was not able to post their texts due to the network problem. The ones who managed were using modems or connecting to the internet with smartphones. I will go though the feedback and post links. Meanwhile, you can go to the participants blogs to see for yourself, but note that everything published is so far for training purposes, including drafts and should not be judged as final products.

Many thanks to all participants for making the class so lively and debating. Thank you to Andrew Marawiti from MISA Tanzania for facilitating the whole training. Special thanks also to Ibrahim Kasonso from the IT department at Open University of Tanzania Mbeya Branch for the IT support and probably the fastest internet I have ever experienced in Tanzania (before it went off on Wednesday due to a failure at the service provider). Thanks also to the catering team for the meals and bites and popcorn at tea time.

The next internet trainings will be in Swahili language and conducted by Tanzanian trainers. The trainings will take place in May and June in Geita, Kigoma and Njombe.

Challenging stories on gas and press freedom

The training ended well yesterday and I’m already in Dar es Salaam while making this posting. The journalists spent almost the whole Wednesday doing research exercises either on gas projects in Mtwara on the southern coast of Tanzania, or about the freedom of the press in Tanzania and challenges that Tanzanian journalists face.

Here are the exact assignments they were to choose from:
Gas in Mtwara
Foreign companies from several countries are exploring for natural gas in the Mtwara region, and a gas pipeline is under construction.
Explain the whole process. What are the potential benefits for Tanzania? How have the local people in Mtwara been involved? What challenges are there?
Search for facts and figures and background information from Tanzanian and international online resources. Write a feature story and publish.

Press freedom in Tanzania
Write a story to an international audience about the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania today.
You can take into consideration the existence of any kind of censorship of the media, threats, attacks or banning of the media, access to information, lack of resources or skills, media ownership, and the salaries of journalists.
Read and refer to articles and other resources found online. Also provide links.
These assignments were of course pretty challenging due to the wide scope of the topics and the limited time available. We talked much about not copy-pasting anything from the web, but rather making notes to the notebook, or printing out some pages and underlining passages from the source texts, in case that a printer is available.

Another difficulty is to be able to write a nice and compact story out of all the material, a story with a good beginning, an interesting middle part with more detailed backgrounds, and finally reaching a fascinating conclusion. This is still something to work on, but at least one point got home: Journalists in Tanzania should have much more time to search for information for their stories from the web – and also more time for the actual writing, first preparing a draft, and only after that proceeding to write the final story, not forgetting to also spend enough time editing the outcome.

Unfortunately, we also had a problem with the network on Wednesday afternoon when it was most needed, so everyone was not able to post their stories, but some however managed to publish.

For the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania, see the articles of Jackson Numbi or Edward Majura, who this time writes in Swahili.

For stories on gas production and gas exploration in Mtwara, here’s the story by Felix Mwakyembe, and here’s another one by Stella Mnishi, and here’s the text by Juma Kibona.

How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism and the need for ethical reporting and true professionalism have been continuously on the agenda during the training days.

The website lists the following examples as plagiarism:
Turning in someone else’s work as your own

Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit

Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks

Changing words but copying the sentence structure without giving credit

Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not
For most journalists, editors and lecturers in class, the previous examples sound too familiar.

Then how can you avoid plagiarizing? In most cases by citing sources. By simply explaining that a part of the material has been borrowed, and providing your audience the information necessary to find the original source. That’s usually enough to prevent plagiarism.

Plagiarism has never been as easy as it is today. Before the internet, potential plagiarists would have had to go to the library and copy texts from books by hand. But the internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in a few minutes one could find, copy and paste together an entire seminar paper, or a feature story.

But there’s no point in copy-pasting. You just make a much better story by writing in your own style and words. An editor or a teacher should also easily recognize passages that are directly copied, from the vocabulary used.

Journalists in any country caught plagiarizing can get sacked. If you are copying someone else’s story for an article published in your own name, you might also get sued for copyright infringement and be forced to pay heavy compensation. The same goes for publishing a photo without the permission of the copyright owner. In most of the world, the length of the copyright is usually 50 or 70 years after the death of the author. In Tanzania, 50 years.

The recommendation was that all participants would take their time and read the Tanzanian Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act from 1999, found here as a PDF file on a UNESCO web portal where they have collected the copyright laws from most countries.

Here’s another link to a good BBC story about plagiarism, how easy it is, and how easily it can be detected.

Think first, and other tips for fact-finding

Here’s some useful tips when searching for information from the web.
Think first, before going to the web.

What do you search for and where might you find it? Are you searching for simple facts, backgrounds or any other information that can develop your story? Should you google, or can you find the information on a specific website you already know? Do you find it from the internet, or better somewhere else?

Always monitor other news sites, both local and international, and also other web resources.

Choose right search words.

Try different Google search options – sometimes web, sometimes news, sometimes “all web”, sometimes only Tanzanian pages, or only Swahili language pages. You can also narrow your search by date, for last year, last month, last week or the last 24 hours only.

Open pages in a new tab. While the new pages are opening, you can continue reading the original page.

Add to favourites, or bookmarks. Also open new files for your favourites, or bookmarks. Then you will easier find the stories when you want to come back to them.

Follow the links in the stories you read.

Go to original sources.

Don’t always read everything, but scan for what is of your interest.

Don’t ever copy-paste! That’s

Print if necessary. Read as homework, underline.

Also make notes to your notebook and save drafts to a USB flash.
Here’s some more tips before you start writing the story.
Structure your story in your mind and on paper.

Decide what is relevant for your narrative.

Write simple with own words.

Quote when necessary.

Understand what you write (you are there to make things understandable for your audience).

Add details for human interest.
When you’re about to publish:
Provide links to original sources (if you publish online).

Always also think about headline, visual outlook, quotes, images, graphics etc.
Some general good advice for producing good investigative stories:
Spend much more time on the investigation than on the actual writing.

Plan your story into narrative chunks.

Also plan how you use your time
  • for research
  • for writing
  • for editing your text
  • for checking facts
  • and for delivering the final story.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Some photos from the training

Aloyce Mohamed is head of the journalism department at University of Iringa.

Debora Malambugi, journalism lecturer at Loyal College of Africa.

Edward Majula is the new programme manager at Highland FM Radio. 

Gabriel Mbwille works as editor at Bomba FM Radio.

Matthew Sasali is station manager at Ushindi FM Radio.

Ordination Mgongolwa, journalism lecturer from University of Iringa. Photos by Peik Johansson.

Summaries and short stories from second day

The participants have posted their summaries about what we did yesterday and what they thought was most useful for them. Almost all have also published their short stories that they did yesterday about either wireless internet in the Rwandan capital Kigali or about the Ugandan TV comedian Anne Kansiime and how she used the internet to launch her career. Please go to the blogs. I will produce a short summary later...

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

What exactly Kikwete said a week ago in Dodoma

In this posting, I will list some of the fact-finding exercises we have done during the first two days of the training, starting with a warm-up of some more simple research in order to activate our brains and minds to the more challenging fact-finding exercises.

To find out the population of Iringa Urban District, the phone number of the Media Council of Tanzania and the street address of the Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam were yet easy tasks. Populations, geographical and political details and such can usually be found in a Wikipedia article that you would reach just by searching for the name of the place or country. Links to contact information are usually found on the top of the website at the right end of the page, or in a column on the left side of the page, or at the bottom of the page.

The task to find out who is the president of Sweden was a bit more difficult as the country is a monarchy and has a king – with no political power though. The prime minister is the head of the government, but even finding the name of the current prime minister Stefan Löfven was a bit tricky as the Google search was still full of photos and links to Fredrik Reinfeldt who was the previous prime minister until October last year.

Some other assignments were even more challenging for a warm-up, like what president Jakaya Kikwete exactly said at the inauguration of the new National Archives in Dodoma last Wednesday. The direct quotes of the president were found by narrowing the search to last week only and also searching in Swahili language only as he was most probably speaking in Swahili and not English.

Later on, the participants chose one topic out of three given options and took some more time to write and publish a short story about the topic.

The first assignment option was to find out what is Smart Kigali. It’s an initiative by the capital of neighbouring Rwanda, which is now offering free wireless internet in public places and public transport all through the city. Part of the plan is to donate smart gadgets also to poor citizens to assist and encourage them to access the web.

The second option was to search for information about Anne Kansiime, the Ugandan TV comedian, and how she made use of the internet in launching her career.

The third story option was to find out what is common between Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan actress and Oscar Award winner, and Ugandan female chess champion Phiona Mutesi. An upcoming film is the correct reply, starring Lupita Nyong’o and telling the story of how a girl from one of the worst slums in Kampala rose to become chess master.

Some managed to publish their stories today and others will follow tomorrow.

Feedback from the first training day

Participants have posted each day summaries of what we did during the training day, what they learned, what they liked and what they disliked. Here I’m planning to post a summary of their feedback from the first day. Until then, I suggest going directly to their blogs. Links found on the right.

Some resources on online investigative reporting

Here’s a few quite useful articles and websites about investigative reporting going online.

Online investigative journalism is an article written by Australian journalism professor Alan Knight already in 2001 about how investigative journalism can develop by making use of more advanced online research methods and searching for information from the internet.

How investigative reporting makes use of the internet is an article in the British Guardian by Mercedes Bunz, listing some examples how reporters have started to use the internet to get hints from the public or to ask their audience for help with checking facts.

Paul Bradshaw is an online journalist and blogger who is writing a book about investigative journalism in the age of internet. Here’s an extract from one of his book chapters about how investigative journalism found its feet online.

How investigative journalism is prospering in the age of social media by Vadim Lavrusik is an interesting article with lots of embedded images about the latest trends of distributed reporting, community-sourced mapping, investigative networks, and other ways how reporters in the US and UK have been making use of the social media for their news stories.

Angolan deportee See how the investigative reporters at the Guardian were using Twitter to get help from their readers in reporting about the death of Jimmy Mubenga who was to be deported from the UK to Angola but died after very brutal treatment by his guards on a British Airways plane.

BAE Files The same Guardian did a very good job already several years back in investigating the corrupted arms trade deals with the British arms company BAE Systems and Tanzania and Saudi Arabia. Everything has been published online with links, photos of original documents, videos, and explanations how the investigations were done.

Wikileaks is already a classic example about a huge online source for information on political stories in almost every country that has a US Embassy. From this page you should be able to find all 663 diplomatic cable reports sent from the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam between January 2005 to February 2010 about often secret discussions held between Tanzanian officials or individuals and US diplomatic staff.

Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) This South Africa-based organization provides lots of resources about investigative reporting: practical manuals, tip sheets, trauma support, and info about upcoming investigative journalism conferences. On the front page, you can find some examples of the best investigative stories from several African countries.

Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) is an American investigative news organization that publishes investigative stories online, both stories by their own staff and stories produced by other journalists and news organizations. The website also has a Reporter Tools section, a free and comprehensive how-to-get-started package for wannabe investigative reporters. It’s basically meant for American reporters, but can include useful tips for anyone interested in more in-depth reporting. One of the first links, for example, takes you to a short guide on how to make reluctant people loosen their lips.

What is investigative internet journalism?

Now what do we mean with investigative internet journalism? We had a good and lively discussion about that yesterday in class with most participants giving good suggestions.

To break down that concept, maybe it’s first best to define what we mean with investigative journalism. There are also several different definitions for that.

According to the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a topic of interest. Often it focuses on topics such as crime, political corruption, corporate wrongdoings, or any other topic that some other people in the society would rather want to hide from the public. Investigative journalism might include undercover reporting, analysis of documents or databases of public records, or numerous interviews, also with anonymous sources. An investigative journalist may spend months or even years researching and preparing a report.

The News Manual is an online resource for journalists published with the support from UNESCO. According to the manual, the job of journalists is to let people know what is going on in the society and the world around them. Journalists do this by finding facts and telling them to their readers or listeners. Throughout the world, however, governments, companies, organizations and individuals might try to hide some decisions or events which affect other people. So when a journalist tries to report on matters which somebody wants to keep secret, this is investigative journalism.

According to the Investigative Journalism Manual by the South Africa-based Forum for African Investigative Reporters, investigative journalism digs deeply into an issue of public interest, producing new information or putting known information together to produce new findings. It means searching for information from many sources, using more resources than in usual daily reporting, and often it demands teamwork and time. Investigative reporting is often revealing secrets or uncovering issues surrounded by silence. But it’s not always about bad news, and doesn’t necessarily require undercover techniques. Usually this kind of reporting also aims to provide context and explain not only what has happened, but also why.

Definitions found through the internet about what would be investigative internet journalism, or investigative online journalism, differ even more. These are still new concepts, and different people understand them differently.

For some it would mean doing investigative inquiries by making use of the social media to provide answers to the journalist’s questions. For others it means publishing the investigative reports online with all the possibilities provided by multimedia and interactivity.

In this training, however, we will define investigative internet as making use of the tremendous amount of information in the internet for finding facts, backgrounds, context, and simply investigating the stories we are working on. In today’s Tanzania, this is surely one of the most important areas to focus on in journalism training, both for students and professionals.

High expectations for the training week

The training participants have opened their blogs and made their first postings, introducing themselves and listing some of their expectations. I will update later a summary with some links. So far you can go directly to their blogs, see the link list on the right.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tovuti training in the cool green highlands

This is my first posting from a training course on investigative internet journalism arranged at the Open University of Tanzania in Mbeya, the biggest town in the Tanzanian Southern Highlands. Mbeya is located not far from the border with Zambia and at an exhausting altitude of 1,700 metres from sea level. This means that the weather is cool, the clouds are hanging low, the nature and surrounding hills are lush green and nearby fields flourish with maize plants and sunflowers.

The training course is part of an internet training programme for Tanzanian journalists co-arranged by MISA-Tanzania and Vikes – The Finnish Foundation for Media and Development, a solidarity organization of the Union of Journalists in Finland, with support from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The training is the fifth investigative internet journalism training in Tanzania so far and already the 34th internet training course altogether arranged within the training programme which has been running since 2008.

Other previous internet courses have focused on editors from national mainstream media as well as radio producers, local reporters and journalism lecturers in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar and Arusha.

During the last three years, separate Swahili-language training courses have also been arranged for local reporters and regional correspondents in twelve locations around the country, namely Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya, Morogoro, Moshi, Mtwara, Musoma, Mwanza, Pemba, Shinyanga, Songea and Sumbawanga. These trainings have been conducted by a group of dedicated Tanzanian trainers who have been specifically trained for that as part of this same programme.

Now, at this investigative internet journalism training in Mbeya, there are 13 participants from four local radio stations, two national newspapers and four journalism schools located in Mbeya, Iringa and Kyela.

We are all neatly packed into an ICT student lab working hard with some brand new desktop computers and very fast internet access. Our task for the coming days is to search for information from the web, or tovuti in Swahili, and to produce journalistic stories based on our investigations.

More about the proceedings of the first training day will be published later