No fewer than fifteen journalists took part in an investigative story pitch meeting held by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) on Thursday, 20th June 2019, at Amber Residence, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.
The meeting was organised for journalists whose investigative story pitches to the Regulators Monitoring Programme (REMOP) of the WSCIJ were successful. The WSCIJ had called for investigative story pitches on basic education and electricity in May 2019 under the REMOP project.
Adeolu Adekola, Senior Programme Officer, WSCIJ, explained that the meeting was crucial to discuss, review and firm up the pitched ideas by the reporters; meet and familiarise the reporters with the mentors; and agree on the scope, modalities, and other details of the story projects.
At the meeting, the select reporters were engaged by the resource persons on some vital elements of investigative reporting. Explaining the differences between investigative reporting and features writing, Musikilu Mojeed, Editor-in-Chief, Premium Times, noted that much research and evidence gathering goes into investigative reporting and that an investigation must reveal violation of extant laws, policies and processes.
According to him, “Journalists must be familiar with the constitution – the fundamental objectives of government, the rights of citizens – and any other law, regulation or policy impacting the stories being developed. This will enable you show that there is a violation.”
On his part, Theophilus Abbah, Programme Director, Daily Trust Foundation, took the reporters through a sample investigation, demonstrating how to establish wrongdoing, the evidence gathered and the sources used for the investigative story.
Joining the other resource persons to review the pitches, Motunrayo Alaka, WSCIJ Coordinator, remarked that the reporters should also do more stories at the intersection of different sectors. She added that the reporters should observe things for themselves and be prepared to describe and narrate what they saw in addition to what sources told them.
Speaking on the modalities for executing the investigative story project, Samson Ademola, Programme Officer at WSCIJ, explained that the pitch meeting marked the commencement of a two-month mentoring for the reporters towards helping them produce impactful stories.
The pitch meeting is an activity of the Regulators Monitoring Programme (REMOP), which is conceived as a media initiative geared at reporting the activities of regulators, including successes and failures, in a bid to promote proactive disclosure of information, transparency and accountability. The pilot phase of the programme, which is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, is focused on electricity (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission – NERC) and basic education (Universal Basic Education Commission – UBEC).