African media urged to collaborate for impact

Media organisations on the African continent have been urged to collaborate for more impact. The charge came at a session on ‘Collaborative Journalism’ held Friday, 23 October 2020 at the ongoing African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC).

Motunrayo Alaka, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) was joined by Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ) and Peter Mwesige, Co-founder & Executive Director of African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) at the session moderated by Sharon Ijasan, Education and Labour Correspondent at Television Continental (TVC).

Alaka noted that collaboration is the name of the game at the WSCIJ and the centre under her watch has tried not to work alone, demonstrating how it has collaborated through some of its projects, including the Regulators Monitoring Programme and the Female Reporters Leadership Programme.

According to her, a collaborative story project it coordinated among four local media houses in Nigeria yielded immediate results because the stories were published simultaneously by the partner media and it resonated well across the media platforms.

Alaka observed that collaboration can help media organisations leverage expertise, share resources and share risks. In her words: “Individually, we are good, but as a group, we can be great.” However, she urged the participants to uphold the value of confidentiality while collaborating.

Lowenstein urged participants at the event to leverage the ongoing conference as an opportunity to network and come together to do investigative stories. He affirmed that collaboration could help expand network, impact, and audience among other gains.

He also spoke on some collaborative works his organisation is doing, such as the ‘Gaming the Lottery’ project, which involves close to 40 people from 10 countries working in journalism and civic tech organisations in Africa, Europe and the United States.

On his part, Mwesige shared his organisation’s lessons from previous collaborative efforts. He affirmed that it helps when there is a coordinating organisation for collaborative investigative story projects. He added that collaboration is a great learning opportunity for partner media.

Speaking on balancing competition and the need for collaboration, he said international media like the New York Times have shown that investing in investigative journalism can bring a lot more revenue.

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