Investigative journalism, “An Untapped opportunity”

By Grace Birungi

As part of celebrating the international women’s day 2022, the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ), in collaboration with Uganda Christian University (UCU) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) went all out to motivate and inspire young female journalists to explore the space of investigative journalism.

Investigative journalism is largely known to be a manual field with very few female journalists occupying this space. Under the UN theme for this year “”Breaking the Bias,” we believe that female journalists too can-do great investigations if supported and motivated. Indeed, to break this bias, we tackled the issue right from journalism schools to the newsrooms.

As part the celebrations, AIIJ, UCU, and KAS screened a documentary film titled A thousand Cuts at UCU’s Nkoyoyo hall, which documents the life of Maria Ressa, an investigative journalist from the Philippines who fights for press freedom and speaking truth to power.

After the screening, we had both a panel and plenary discussion around the film and generally on women in the space of investigative journalism. The panel was moderated by AIIJ’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr Raymond Mujuni. The panelists included Anna Reisman, Country Director of the Konrad Adenure Stiftung, Dr. Patricia Litho, Ceillia Okoth, an investigative journalist with New vision, and Dr. Annette Keezabu, Head of the Postgraduate Studies School of Journalism at Uganda Christian University. The discussion focused on how women can overcome biases and capitalize on the untapped opportunity of investigative journalism.

Dr. Patricia Litho, a women and media scholar delivered the keynote address which largely focused on the need for interest for female journalist to take up the space. She shared some tips that female journalist can embrace to interest their editors to assign them on investigative stories. She spoke among others about the need to have powerful pitch, developing a skill set and a tool set if female journalists are to aggressively take up this space.

The event was graced by the vice chancellor of UCU Prof.  Aaron Musherezi, who applauded the African Institute for Investigative Journalism for being a center of excellence for investigative journalism. “We believe that what AIIJ is doing to promote investigative journalism right from Universities is very important. Today, we sign a memorandum of understanding with them to work together on several fronts including training our students, doing research in this field and working on short courses around investigative journalism,” he added.

The Executive Director, AIIJ Mr. Solomon Serwanjja after signing the MOU said “We are so excited about this new partnership with UCU. As the institute ours is to nature the next investigative journalists who will be brave enough to hold the powerful accountable by outputting great investigations. We know that to achieve this, we have to start working from the grassroot which is tertiary institutions like UCU.”

Speaking at the event, the Country Representative, KAS, Anna Reisman, said, “Investigative journalism brings out the most hidden in our societies, it questions power, and we need it for democracy, and democracy is very strongly linked to peace and progress.” She pledged her support to AIIJ to advance the role of investigative journalism in advocating for good governance and democratic leadership in Uganda.