Eighteen more reporters have been commissioned under the COVID-19 Reality Check Project designed and implemented by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) to expand efforts in ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic gets more reported by the media in Nigeria. This brings the number of reporters engaged on the project across media platforms to 32 since its inception in April 2020.
The reporters were commissioned at a virtual meeting held Tuesday, 28th July 2020, to discuss and agree on story ideas and other modalities for engagement, including a one-month mentoring under a group of seasoned media practitioners and academics towards successful delivery on their pitched investigative story ideas.
The mentors who will provide guidance to the reporters in producing investigative reports on a broad spectrum of issues the pandemic has thrown up since the index case was reported in Nigeria, include veteran broadcaster and CEO of Strictly Speaking, Bimbo Oloyede; Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed; Professor and Head of Mass Communications Department at the University of Lagos, Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika; Programme Director, Daily Trust Foundation, Theophilus Abbah; Editor, International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Amzat Ajibola; and Head of Department, General Studies at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Adeboye Ola.
Speaking at the meeting, WSCIJ’s Executive Director, Motunrayo Alaka, stated that the first and second phases of the project have enabled the publication of no fewer than 74 stories. She encouraged the reporters to keep an open mind to learn from their assigned mentors as well as produce impactful and investigative stories.
As part of the meeting, mentors gave their feedback on the pitches received from the reporters. According to them, investigative reporting requires deeper digging backed up with evidence to expose something that will otherwise be hidden from the people. The need to keep safe and collaborate with others on the investigation was also underscored by the mentors.
COVID-19 Reality Check project examines government interventions and promises in relation to the realities on the ground in terms of social welfare, water and sanitation, economics, security, food availability and accessibility, education, electric power supply, among others. To date, 78 stories, some of which have triggered stakeholder responses, have been published. The issues covered include health (safety and welfare of healthcare workers, infrastructure/facilities/testing kits, maternal and mental health), education, food security, judiciary, livelihood, safety and security, housing, business, people living with disabilities as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.