Friday, 21 March 2014

More pictures from the internet training

Zulfa Musa, reporter for the newspaper Mwananchi, working on her assignment
during the training week. All photos by Peik Johansson.

Musa Leitura is programme manager at Loliondo Community Radio, based in
Ololosokwan village, not far from the Serengeti National Park.

Geofrey Stephen is a reporter at Radio 5, the Arusha-based radio station said
to be connected to Edward Lowassa, the former prime minister of Tanzania.

Onesmo Elia works as a lecturer at Arusha Journalism Training College,
a huge training institution with more than 400 students of journalism.

Baraka Ole Maika is station manager at Orkonerei Radio Service (ORS FM)
in Terrat, one of Tanzania's most well-established community radio stations.

Happy to learn by doing things practically

The training ended well on Wednesday with speeches and a group photo session. After completing the assignments on gas in Mtwara and the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania, the participants also published they final posts on what they thought of the training, was it useful for them, did it fulfil their expectations, and what challenges there were, or other needs for improvement for upcoming training events.

Clement Shari says that the training was good and he was especially happy to learn new skills by doing things practically. Musfata Leu says that the training was very important for him as he got new technical advice on how to write investigate stories by making use of the internet.

Grace Ruhinda explains the last day’s assignment which took almost the whole day to complete. “But in the long run it was successful and most of the participants could come up with a great online investigative story.”

Marko Gideon says that his expectation to learn more advanced search tools was surpassed. Nehemiah Rubondo also says that his expectations were fulfilled, but he adds that the training left him eager to know more about investigative internet journalism. Zulfa Musa says that she is also looking forward to study more.

Canadian journalist Adam Bemma showing a point to
Ramadhani Siwayombe during the training on Tuesday.
Habibu Mawenya was especially happy to learn to link from his blog to the original source – in order to avoid plagiarism. He believes the training was very useful to his students and all the staff at The Arusha East African Training Institute.

Asked to make suggestions on how to improve the training, most participants wished that the training would last some days longer. Others said that more participants could be invited to the training or that this kind of training should be arranged all over Tanzania so that every journalist will benefit.

This time we also experienced some problems with bad computers, slow network and power cuts, which are all still a challenge for most colleagues in Tanzania.

For more comments and reflections, see also the blog posting from the training and interview with Rotlinde Achimpota by Canadian journalist Adam Bemma who assisted us in the class during the training. Many thanks to Adam for joining in with a helping hand!

Many thanks also to Gasirigwa Sengiyumva from MISA Tanzania for facilitating the whole training. Thanks also to Antious Gerazi for the challenging task of providing IT support at the venue. And a special thank to the catering team for the delicious stews and rice and fresh salads at lunch time.

The next internet trainings will be in Swahili language and conducted by Tanzanian trainers. The trainings will take place in June and July in Moshi, Musoma and Sumbawanga.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Challenging stories on gas and press freedom

The journalists have today spent almost the whole day 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 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.
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.

For the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania, see the articles of Grace Ruhinda, Musa Leitura, Habibu Mawenya or Zulfa Musa. Or if you know Swahili, you can also see the text by Baraka Ole Maika.

For stories on gas production and gas exploration in Mtwara, here’s the posting by Nehemiah Rubondo, and here’s another article by Marko Gideon.

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.

Some photos from the classroom

Grace Ruhinda is a radio presenter at Radio Triple ‘A’ FM. While in Arusha,
you can listen to her show each weekday at 4 pm. Photos by Peik Johansson.

Elisha Mayallah is a senior journalist at the local newspaper Arusha Times,
one of the first Tanzanian newspapers to go online already in 2001.

Ramadhani Siwayombe is a sports writer and regional correspondent of the
national newspaper Tanzania Daima.
Habibu Mawenya is the principal of The Arusha East African Training
Institute, a local journalism school with students from all over East Africa.
Nehemiah Rubondo is head of the media department at Habari Maalum College,
a Pentecostal journalism school emphasizing the importance of media ethics.

Clement Shari works as news subeditor at Sunrise Radio, the local radio
station with the slogan “Pamoja na wewe”, Together with you.

Rotlinde Achimpota, subeditor and news reporter at Mambo Jambo Radio,
concentrating on her search assignment on Tuesday.

Marko Gideon is a communication officer of World Wide Fund for Nature,
but he also part-times as trans-editor for the news agency Inter Press Service.

Mustafa Leu, Arusha correspondent of Radio Uhuru, attended also the
previous internet training arranged in Arusha in 2010.

Narrowing the search to find what we need

The participants have posted their summaries about what we did yesterday and what they thought was most useful for them.

Grace Ruhinda, radio presenter and subeditor at Triple ‘A’ FM, explains how she did her story on the family of Lupita Nyong’o. First she made a search about simply Lupita Nyong’o, and then she searched for more information about her family. Thereafter, she went on to find some more key points from various online resources and made notes into her notebook. Then she drafted the story and finally did a few edits before publishing the story in her blog. “It was a very tricky task, but I learned a lot working on this particular story,” she says.

Marko Gideon, communication officer at World Wide Fund for Nature and also trans-editor of IPS, has written a complete summary of almost everything we did on Day 2. He also explains step by step how he searched for information for his story on president Museveni’s remarks that he would rather work with Russians than Americans, though the USA has already for long been considered as Uganda’s closest supporter and ally. From the U.S. State Department website, Marko found lots of comments by U.S. officials and human rights organizations against Museveni’s decision to sign into law the anti-homosexuality bill. He also found material about Russia’s new law against the propagation of so called non-traditional sexual relations. “So I discovered that Museveni’s utterance might have come because Russia is also an anti-gay state,” he concludes.

Rotlinde Achimpota, subeditor at Mambo Jambo FM, lists some of the research assignments we have done, starting with the easier ones about names of presidents and heights of mountains, and moving on to more advanced ones about the current inflation rate in Tanzania, or to find direct quotations of president Kikwete published in the local media the previous week. She says she has learnt during the training that research via the internet is very useful to her in her work at her radio station and in the future she will research her stories more deeply than before.

Elisha Mayallah, senior journalist at Arusha Times, was most impressed to learn how to narrow his web search by timeline, language or country, in order to optimize his search results.

Zulfa Musa, reporter of the national newspaper Mwananchi, says that even though she has been using the internet for more than five years, it is only now that she has really learnt to find from the web exactly the information that she needs. “After this training, I will improve my stories,” she says.

Ramadhani Siwayombe, correspondent of the national newspaper Tanzania Daima, says that this training has made him a new journalist and a professional of internet. Congratulations for that!

What Kikwete said a week ago about elephants

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.

Some other assignments were a bit more challenging for a warm-up, like what president Jakaya Kikwete exactly said about elephants last week at State House in Dar es Salaam. The direct quotes of the president were found by narrowing the search to the last week only, or by narrowing the search to the exact dates of Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

Later on, 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 was to search for more information about the family of Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan actress and a sudden new African star celebrity after winning the Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film 12 Years a Slave. Lupita’s father Peter Anyang Nyong'o was a professor of political science persecuted in Kenya during the time of president Moi and working in self-exile as visiting lecturer in Mexico in 1983 when Lupita was born, the reason why she also has Mexican citizenship.

The third topic was about why the Ugandan president Museveni recently announced that he would rather work with Russians than with Americans. The statement was made last month at the launching ceremony of a Russian fighter jet simulator at the Ugandan Air Force base at Entebbe airport, and it was as reaction to the criticism from U.S. president Obama on Uganda’s new anti-gay bill. More info could of course be found about the background and details of that harsh law; about the general treatment of homosexuals by Ugandan police, politicians, violent mobs and media; about the still very close military ties between the United States and Uganda; or the criticism that Russia received from the Western countries for its own anti-gay bill especially during the Winter Olympics hosted by Russia recently in Sochi.

All of the topics were almost equally popular by the participants. For the Ugandan president’s statement and the anti-gay bill, I recommend the postings by Nehemiah Rubondo, Elisha Mayallah and Marko Gideon. For the Smart Kigali initiative on wireless web access, see the article by Musa Leitura, Loliondo Community Radio. And here you can find a nice story about Lupita Nyongo and her family, written by Grace Ruhinda of Triple ’A’ FM. For all other texts, see the links to the blogs on the right.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Reflections 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’s some of feedback from the first day.

Picture from the entrance of Summit Centre in Arusha. The
University Computing Centre is located on the fourth floor.
Elisha Mayallah, senior journalist at Arusha Times, says that he learned how to search for news items and data – a skill he says he was previously doing only half-way. Another new thing for him was bookmarking some of the visited websites into a file of favourites that he could easily come back to when needed. He is also glad to have learnt how to open a blog, something he was yearning for years in order to post his published print articles since 2003 into one single website.

Nehemiah Rubondo, head of media department at Habari Maalum College, mentions some of the simple search assignments we did on the first day. He wishes that during the training he will learn how to find material from the web in a proper way, by not resorting into plagiarism. In his opinion, a big problem of the Tanzanian media is that they often use to copy-paste their news stories directly from the international media websites without even editing those stories.

Clement Shari, news presenter and subeditor at the local radio station Sunrise FM, says that he enjoys the participatory approach of the training, including questions and answers and practical work by the computers. He also lists some of the search assignments, how to create a blog and how to use the Google Maps.

Musa Leitura, station manager at the Maasai community radio station Loliondo FM, is also listing some of the search assignments and search tips given to the participants. He says he liked especially the practical parts of the training. “The philosophy is learning by doing,” he writes. “Even though the theoretical part was considered, the practical one prevailed – or was central.”

Marko Gideon, communication officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature and trans-editor of the news agency Inter Press Service, has produced an amusingly detailed report of the proceedings during class on Monday, starting from his arrival at the venue in the morning. He is also listing all the search tips that were explained to the participants. These are some simple but useful advice when seeking information from the internet. I will also post the same search tips later to this blog.

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 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 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.

Zulfa Musa, reporter from Tanzania’s biggest newspaper Mwananchi, says that one cannot talk about the media today without referring to the internet. So through this training she expects to get more knowledge on how the web is functioning and how to use it.

Elisha Mayallah, senior journalist at the local weekly newspaper Arusha Times, expects that at the end of the training he will be able to “thoroughly use internet resources to write credible investigative stories that capture the interest of readers”.

Grace Ruhinda, radio presenter and subeditor at the local radio station Triple ‘A’ FM, says that she wants to learn more about how to identify valuable information as well as sources in the internet that will be of great aid in her daily journalistic activities.

Rotlinde Achimpota from Mambo Jambo FM and Baraka Ole Maika from the Maasai community radio station Orkonerei Radio Service (ORS FM) say that after the training they expect to share their new knowledge with their colleagues at their radio stations.

In the class, there are also three journalism trainers from local journalism schools in Arusha. Habibu Mawenya from the Arusha East African Training Institute says that he will share his new knowledge with his staff members and students of broadcasting journalism. Nehemiah Rubondo, head of media department at the Pentecostal journalism school Habari Maalum College, expects that the training will help his school and “at the end we will have the best investigative journalists in Tanzania for the individual and societal transformation”.

Marko Gideon, communication officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature and also trans-editor of the news agency Inter Press Service, expects to make use of the training content for updating the Swahili-language training material for local internet trainings within this same training programme. This year, Swahili trainings are planned to be arranged in Moshi, Musoma and Sumbawanga – and in the coming years in at least six more new locations.

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.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Tovuti training in the nyama choma capital

This is my first posting from a training course on investigative internet journalism arranged at the University Computing Centre in Arusha, the business hub of northern Tanzania and the world capital of nyama choma, the barbequed small pieces of local beef from the cattle that has been grazing in the vast savannah of the nearby Maasai land.

Picture from my hotel room with an almost clear view over
the giant Mount Meru, the fourth highest mountain in Africa.
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.

This training is the fourth investigative internet journalism training in Tanzania so far and already the 27th 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 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 in Arusha, there are 14 participants from seven local and national radio stations, three newspapers, three institutions for journalism education and also one editor from the news agency Inter Press Service.

We are all neatly packed into an ICT student lab working hard with some already worn-out desktop computers and an internet access that would also need a bit of upgrading. Our task is to search for information from the web, or tovuti in Swahili, and to produce journalistic stories based on our investigations.

Through the open windows on the fourth floor, we can hear the constant noise from the daladalas and motorbikes moving on along the congested Sokoine Road. But the participants are so concentrated on their assignments that no-one seems to be disturbed of the sounds from the traffic.

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