Wednesday, 30 October 2013

More pictures from the internet training

Here are some more pictures from the class, starting with Elias Msuya,
reporter from Mwananchi, the largest newspaper in Tanzania.

Joyce Shebe, news editor at the popular radio station Clouds FM, making
notes to her notebook during one of the fact-finding assignments.

Imma Mbuguni is the managing editor of the newspaper Majira – and has
also climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!

Sylvia Mwehozi works as tutor and editor at Radio Mlimani, the student radio at
the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

And here, tapping at his laptop, is Marc Nkwame, Arusha correspondent of
the government newspaper Daily News. Photos Peik Johansson.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The best thing was learning by doing

The training ended well today after a hectic training week. Speeches were held, contacts exchanged and group photos were taken.

The participants also wrote their final feedbacks from the training. Seif Jigge from the Maasai community radio ORS FM says that the best thing of the training was that it was done mostly by practical assignments. All other participants seemed to agree with that. “I’m so happy about the way we learned by doing,” writes Elias Msuya from Mwananchi.

Hilda Mhagama of the Daily News says that the Tanzanian audience doesn’t need journalists just for entertainment, but for educating the public.

Athumani Shariff, journalism lecturer at Dar es Salaam School of Journalism, was most inspired by learning to use the internet as a source for data. The truth is that in the Tanzanian media the internet is still not much used for fact-finding.

“Gathering details and supporting stories from a number of websites wasn’t easy, but summing them all up to come up with a readable feature proved to be much harder,” noted Marc Nkwame, Daily News Arusha correspondent.

Sylvia Mwehozi is the editor of Mlimani Radio, the student radio station at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She says that the training has made her able to lead her students as their practical tutor to make more use of the internet in their work.

Asked to make suggestions on how to improve the training, most participants wished that the training would last a few days longer. Some also suggested that the training would be arranged somewhere outside Dar es Salaam.

Many also mentioned that it was nice to work together with such a charming class. From my side, I can only agree. Therefore, many thanks to all the participants for the hard work and dedication, for all debates and other active involvement.

Many thanks also to Cecilia Mng’ong’o from MISA Tanzania for facilitating the whole training. Thanks to Andrew Marawiti for all the pre-training arrangements. Thanks again also to the IT support at TaGLA as well as the catering which provided good meals for lunch and tasty tea at the morning breaks with the necessary mandazi and other bites.

Challenging stories on gas and press freedom

The journalists made today their 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 to it.

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.
We first did some searches together by choosing different combinations of search words and by narrowing the search by time and language, and then the journalists spent almost the whole day finding information for their stories before moving on to the actual writing.

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 printing by making use of the printer in the class and underlining passages from the source texts and making notes to the notebook.

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.

For stories on gas production and gas exploration in Mtwara, see for example the articles of Sylvia Mwehozi, Athumani Shariff, or Hilda Mhagama. Or if you know Swahili, see the text by Seif Jigge.

For stories about press freedom in Tanzania, including examples of the need for improvement, here’s the posting by Marc Nkwame, and here’s another article by Basil Msongo.

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. Also open new files for your favourites. 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.

Some photos from the classroom

Here’s Seif Jigge, radio producer from Orkonerei Radio Service (ORS FM) in
Manyara, working hard on his assignment. All photos Peik Johansson.

Hilda Mhagama is a reporter from the government newspaper Daily News,
specializing on business news and women’s affairs.

Athumani Shariff is a journalism lecturer from Dar es Salaam School of
Journalism, the biggest journalism college in Tanzania.

Basil Msongo, online editor of the government newspaper Habari Leo, has
been running his own blog since his first internet training in 2009.

Cecilia Mng’ong’o from MISA Tanzania is the facilitator of the training taking well
care of all practical arrangements at the venue.

Searching for nectar to make sweet honey

Today is the last day of the training and participants are working on one bigger investigative story, either on gas projects in Mtwara, or about challenges to the freedom of the press in Tanzania. So they should be searching for information from the web, planning and structuring well their draft stories, and finally writing their articles and publishing in their blogs.

While the journalists are working on their research assignments, I have a chance to put together a summary of their feedback postings about what we did on the second day of the training, that is, Tuesday.

To get a full picture of the programme on Day 2, I recommend the posting by Sylvia Mwehozi, Radio Mlimani. She is also explaining step by step how she planned her research assignment and the final story on the Zambian football team’s match against Brazil. Even for a short story, she says she was using many references to find background info on both teams and facts such as the venue and the kick-off time of the match itself.

Here’s another draft summary of the day by Imma Mbuguni, editor of Majira. He also did his story on the football match and says that in order to do that he had to plan how he divided his time on researching, writing and finally posting his story to his blog.

Seif Jigge, Orkonerei Radio Service, or shortly ORS FM, says that during the first days of the training, he has gained a good understanding on how he should prepare himself before starting to investigate his story. “First of all, I will think about what I need in my story,” he writes and concludes by saying that even while searching for information from the web it might be useful to make notes in the notebook, rather than copying passages from other people’s articles.

Here’s another list by Joyce Shebe, Clouds FM, about what she learned on the second day of the training.

Marc Nkwame says that he has learnt that “it is possible to come up with new and fresh-sounding stories from materials gathered around previously written pieces the way bees gather nectar to make sweet-tasting honey”. He also says that he would develop the story he wrote about the free wireless internet access in Kigali into a full feature story to be published in Daily News in a few weeks.

Two more points from Hilda Mhagama, also from Daily News. First of all she quotes me suggesting that for an investigative story, you could end up spending 80 per cent of the time on the research and less time on the actual writing. Her second point is about sharing knowledge, one very important aspect of the training. “Change is not change until you change,” she writes, “so I will be the one to change first before imparting this knowledge to my colleagues at work.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What exactly did Kikwete say a week ago?

Today is Eid al-Hajj, the Islamic festivity of pilgrimage, when millions of Muslims gather in Mecca and Medina. It’s also a public holiday in all Islamic countries, Tanzania among them with its roughly fifty-fifty share of people being Muslims or Christians. So today we have also had a break in the training and I have used the time to update the blog with comments from the participants’ blogs.

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 region, 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 Norway 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.

Some other assignments were a bit more challenging for a warm-up, like what president Jakaya Kikwete exactly said about land investors during his last week’s visit to Kisarawe in Pwani region, not far from Dar es Salaam. The direct quotes of the president were found by narrowing the search to the last week only, by choosing search results in Swahili, and excluding from the search the local blogs, which are popular but usually publish just photos.

On Tuesday, the participants did three separate search assignments and finally took some more time to write and publish a short story about one of the topics. At the end of the exercise they also provided links to their original sources.

The first assignment was to find out what is Smart Kigali. It’s a new 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 search assignment had the code title “Chipolopolo vs. Samba”. Chipolopolo, or Copper Bullets, is the nickname of the Zambian national football team, referring to the fact that copper is the country’s main export, mostly trucked out to the world market via Tanzania and the harbour of Dar es Salaam. The participants were asked to find out against whom and where the Zambian team was playing a friendly match on that same day, actually at the same time as we were sitting in class. The right answer was Brazil, the five-time world champions and the hosts of the 2014 World Cup, who gained a 2–0 victory over the Zambians in the match that was played at Beijing National Stadium in China.

The third topic was to find out what exactly is Uhuru Kenyatta, the newly elected president of neighbouring Kenya, accused for at the International Criminal Court in Hague. Headlines during the previous days were saying that the African Union was demanding the court to postpone the trial as long as Kenyatta is a head of state.

The absolutely most popular topic was the football match. Here’s the match background report by Seif Jigge, radio producer at ORS FM, the Maasai community radio station based in Terrat, Manyara region. Here’s another football story by Imma Mbuguni, editor of Majira newspaper. Here’s the story by Sylvia Mwehozi, Radio Mlimani. And here’s the story by Joyce Shebe, Clouds FM.

For the Smart Kigali initiative on wireless web access, and also other IT investment plans in Kenya and Tanzania, see the story by Marc Nkwame of Daily News. And here you can find a news story on Uhuru Kenyatta by Basil Msongo, online editor of the newspaper Habari Leo.

Reflections from the first training day

Participants of the investigative internet training have made postings on what we did on Monday and how they felt about the first day of the training.

Sylvia Mwehozi, editor of Radio Mlimani, the student radio station at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has written a good summary of all what we did on Day 1. One of the lessons learnt was to choose proper search words and that by narrowing the search by last month, last week or last day, one will get different search results.

Hilda Mhagama, reporter from Daily News, says she learnt how to utilize the search engine properly and in an easy way without wasting time. She also mentions the narrowing of the search by date, month and country, which turned out to be a useful tip for finding out how the World Press Freedom Day was covered by the Tanzanian media last May.

Marc Nkwame, correspondent in Arusha of the same Daily News, explains how he made his way to the training venue by help of Google Maps, which has quite recently updated the streets of Dar es Salaam into the service.

Athumani Shariff, journalism lecturer at Dar es Salaam School of Journalism, says that he likes the fact that the training is pretty much practical – unlike many training events in Tanzania, which in his opinion often tend to concentrate more on theory than on practicing the topics in question.

Here’s then the short and compact summary of the first day by Elias Msuya, investigative reporter from Mwananchi. He also says he enjoys the discussions and assignments and learning by doing – though sometimes debates and practical rehearsals can also be time-consuming as there are lots of different opinions to express and, due to diverse backgrounds in computer use, all participants are not necessarily picking up new things in the same pace. Elias also posted a picture from class.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Some resources on online investigative reporting

Here’s a few articles and websites that I showed on Day 1 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 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 of course 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. The revelations that the government anti-corruption chief was afraid for his life can be found here.

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? 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.

The word “investigate”, again, according to The New Oxford Dictionary of English, is to carry out research or study into a subject in order to discover facts or information; to make inquiries about the character, activities or background of someone; or to make a check to find out something.

So broadly defined, investigative reporting sounds like a very essential part of every journalist’s work: finding information and making inquiries about facts, backgrounds, context, and simply investigating the story we are working on.

Definitions found through the internet about what would be investigative internet journalism, or investigative journalism online, differ even more. These are 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.

Monday, 14 October 2013

High expectations for the training week

Below are some links to the participants’ first introductory postings, where they were supposed to introduce themselves and list their expectations for the training days to come.

Hilda Mhagama, reporter of business news and women’s affairs at Daily News, expects to get new knowledge on how to make use of the internet for investigating her stories. “In this new digital era it’s really important to get used to the internet as there is valuable information which is easily accessed and it’s also an easy way to get feedback from readers,” she concludes.

Imma Mbuguni, editor of the Majira newspaper, has pictured himself in the classroom and published an amusing introduction starting with what his father taught him of the importance of “moments” in life. From this training, he says that he expects to strengthen his investigative internet skills in background gathering.

Elias Msuya, investigative reporter at Mwananchi newspaper, has also published a picture and says he expects to improve his knowledge “for the sake of our national journalism”.

Here you can find a list of the three major expectations from the training by Athumani Shariff, journalism lecturer at Dar es Salaam School of Journalism.

And here’s the introduction of Joyce Shebe, news editor at Clouds FM, who believes that after three days she will have changed and will be ready to apply all her new knowledge as soon as she has completed the training.

For all other introductions, you can go directly to the blogs of the participants. Links to all training blogs have now been updated in the column on the right.

Fanya kazi at tovuti training on Nyerere Day

This is my first posting from a training course on investigative internet journalism arranged at the Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA) at the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania.

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

This training is the third investigative internet journalism training so far and already the 25th 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, radio producers, and local reporters and journalism lecturers in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar and Arusha.

This picture is from Iringa - just to show how to
add a picture. Simple and easy, but usually you
are not allowed to copy any pictures without
the copyright. Photo by Matt Crypto.
During the last three years, separate Swahili-language training courses have also been arranged for local reporters and regional correspondents in nine locations around the country, namely Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Pemba, Shinyanga and Songea. These trainings have been conducted by a group of Tanzanian trainers who have been specifically trained for that as part of this same programme.

Now, at this investigative internet journalism training, there are nine participants from four national newspapers, three radio stations and two institutions for journalism education. Most of the participants have attended similar training courses before, and some have also been conducting internet training either at their college or at one of the regional training events organized within this same programme.

This time we are working with brand new laptop computers and using wireless internet access to find information from the internet, or tovuti in Swahili. The training class is a small meeting room, rather a cabinet, with deep leather chairs, no windows, and huge purple curtains hanging over the walls.

Outside, Dar es Salaam is warm, peaceful and calm. Only few people are today around in this part of town, as it is Nyerere Day, a public holiday to commemorate Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere. Education and hard work were some of the ideals taught by Mwalimu Nyerere, originally a teacher by profession. I also admire the determination of the participants for attending a training on a public holiday – while others are resting and entertaining themselves.

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