About EJC - Blog
The Poynter Institute and the EJC will begin implementation of a multi-year journalism capacity building e-learning project in Indonesia in 2013. The EJC’s country team management was recently in Jakarta to map out methodology, content, and journalistic topical elements of the first pilot with local partners Radio KBR68H and media training centre PPMN.
The two year programme will target regional correspondents and stringers that are part of the KBR68H network of affiliates, which are spread across the Indonesian archipelago of over 17,000 islands. In such a geographical reality, e-learning can prove to be a cost-effective and efficient mechanism for continued education and training of working journalists even in some of the most remote islands where broadband penetrations are often low or non-existent.
A blended learning approach (distance mixed with an occasional face-to-face session with trainers) will focus on basic journalistic skills-building and ethics combined with story outputs on local and community reporting topics such as development/environmental issues and natural disasters. Individual modules on these themes will provide the core of the multi-week courses developed jointly between the Poynter Institute, the EJC and local partners. Development of the pilot will soon be underway and is set to be rolled out in Spring 2013.
The project is funded through the MFSII instrument of the Dutch Foreign Ministry in the Hague. It is part of a much broader global five year project entitled Press Freedom 2.0 that includes other Dutch media partners, such as World Press Photo and Mensen met een Missie, working in 11 countries on five continents.
Here are some photos of the past trip:
Filed under projects.
The EJC held back-to-back Reporting Development journalism training workshops in Nairobi at the offices of EJC Kenyan partner AfricaonAir from 19 - 23 November. Led by veteran BBC journalist and AfricaonAir trainer Joseph Warungu and former BBC/AFP journalist and director of Dakar-based E-jicom Hamadou Tidiane Sy, the two events included a total of 16 Kenyan electronic and print journalists from the capital as well as regional cities Mombasa, Wajir, Eldoret, Voi and Marakwet.
The EJC’s five year projects in Kenya target a specific niche in the country’s media landscape: namely, the lack of in-depth, well researched, compelling, and impactful stories on issues of development. It seeks to raise awareness of development issues through engagement with Kenyan journalists, editors, and society at large.
Here are pictures from the event to better illustrate what went on:
Filed under projects.
The EJC recently kicked off two weeks of non-stop journalism training and press freedom events across Bolivia this week in cooperation with its local partner Fundacion para el Periodismo.
Featured is the highly promoted panel discussion, which took place 30 October in the capital La Paz: “The future of journalism and the role of media in the digital era”. The panelists include journalist and former Bolivian president Carlos Mesa, Bolivian journalist Juan Carlos Salazar, Miguel Winazki director of the Clarin Journalism School Buenos Aires, and Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Josh Friedman.
Other EJC events focus on the training of the future trainers of Fundacion para el Periodismo led by veteran Reuters reporter and EJC expert Oliver Wates in the city of Cochabamba.
Wates also ran a practical general reporting training in Cochabamba for 30 young Bolivian journalists on 29-30 October.
Events end next week with two Wates-led topical journalism courses—the first in La Paz focuses on reporting and on development issues. The final event will take place at 3700m elevation in the traditional mining town of Oruro, with its focus on commodities reporting, a mainstay of the Bolivian economy.
Filed under projects.
EJC’s five-year Press Freedom 2.0 programme in Bolivia was launched the last week of November with simultaneous journalism training and press freedom events taking place in the capital La Paz.
EJC Programme Manager Josh Laporte (left)
A training of trainers workshop was held in cooperation with the Fundación para el Periodismo and led by the director of the Clarin journalism school of Buenos Aires, Miguel Winazki. The programme targeted future media trainers for the Fundación as well as Bolivian university faculties of communication.
The official project launch event featured a roundtable led by Pedro Glasinovic, President of the Asociación de Periodistas de La Paz where the latest press freedom violations in Bolivia were presented to an audience of local journalists, donors and media NGOs in great detail.
Read more: (in Spanish)
Periodistas lanzan el proyecto “Press Freedom 2.0”, Asociación de Periodistas de La Paz
Filed under projects.
Together with local partner the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), EJC implemented two back-to-back five day Financial Corruption Investigative Journalism Courses in November with trainers from the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF).
The intensive, practical workshops targeted both Georgian tv and print/online journalists, regional journalists and featured local co-trainers from EJC’s Training the Trainers course earlier in the year.
A total of 26 journalists received the joint EJC—GIPA—TRF course completion certificate.
Complete photo albums:
Photo credits: Natia Metreveli, Programme Coordinator, Georgian Institute Of Public Affairs
Filed under projects.
As part of the Press Freedom 2.0 project in Bolivia, a series of town hall meetings were organised with local partner Asociación de Periodistas de La Paz in various regional cities with citizens and journalists to discuss the importance of journalism ethics and to describe the journalists association’s ethics tribunal.
These photographs were taken during the first of these meetings, held in Cobija, Bolivia - one of the largest cities in the Amazon region of the country bordering Brazil.
Filed under projects.
The EJC media skills training in partnership with the Kenya Peace Network took place on 17-18 October, 2011 at the Pastoral Center of Marsabit, Kenya. Communication and media officers of 23 Kenyan NGOs participated in the practical workshop led by EJC trainer Hamadou Tidiane SY.
Filed under projects.
A review by Nicolas Kayser-Bril of the first in a series of EJC/OKF data journalism workshops on EU spending.
As Friedrich Lindenberg was writing this abstruse code on his MacBook plugged on the beamer at the workshop on EU spending on 9 September, 20 journalists listened attentively as data started to speak before their eyes. In a conference room in Utrecht University’s 15th-century Faculty Club, the group from across Europe watched as Lindenberg compared a list of lobbying firms with the list of accredited experts at the European Commission: Any overlap would clearly suggest a conflict of interest.
More than watching, the audience actually followed in Lindenberg’s steps on Google Refine, an Excel-like tool, and was taming the data on their own laptops. At this point in time, more journalists were engaging in data-mining in Utrecht than in any other newsroom. This practical exercise was the climax of two days of learning to investigate the mountains of data produced by European institutions. Besides Lindenberg, the coder behind Open Spending, EU datajournalist Caelainn Barr, OpenCorporates founder Chris Taggart and Erik Wesselius of Corporate Europe shared expertise with participants.
The EU budget has the advantage of being massive (EUR 120 billion) and fairly open, compared to what a journalist can get from most national governments. It was the perfect topic for the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation to bring together open data and data journalism. It was also a perfect topic for participants, whose ideas, depicted on the mind-map above, rushed in the first brainstorming session from health issues to real-time data to the always-fascinating lobbyists and regional grants.
Good reporting needed
Journalists reporting on the EU budget face an uphill struggle. Knowledge of the budget among Europeans is abysmally poor. One in three Europeans has never heard of an EU budget and less than one in four of those who have knows that most of the budget is spent on agriculture. More interestingly, the graph shows that the level of ignorance remained fairly constant for the past 10 years with the solidly-anchored belief that administrative costs represent the lion’s share of the EU budget (the actual figure is 6 percent).
A lack of access to clear and clean data might be one of the reasons why representations of the EU budget are so far off the mark. Ron Korver, press officer at the EU Parliament, opened the workshop by explaining that EU institutions are sometimes reluctant to giving a clear picture of their finances. He himself had to dig through pdfs published by the Commission to find a comprehensive view of the 2009 expenditures by country. Worse still: as of writing, the brochure ‘Budget 2011: Beyond the crisis, towards new goals’ still redirects to a “page not found” 404 error.
The workshop provided a large overview of the available resources to mine EU-related data, listed on this wiki. Participants were thrilled to see that expenditures could be tracked at the project level, sometimes involving only a few thousand euros (that’s on the Cohesion policy website). Most had no idea that a public register of lobbyists existed (the transparency register).
Data was analysed using Google Refine, powerful spreadsheet software that can be linked to online services. Taggart demonstrated how a journalist could seamlessly extract data from international directory Open Corporates directly in Google Refine using its reconciliation service. The rationale behind these efforts was that proficiency with such tools will help journalists save time and investigate more efficiently.
The main question in the audience was how to make a story out of data. While databases are interesting in themselves, enticing readers into digging into them is no easy task. Barr explained that her eight-month tracking of EUR 347 billion in Structural funds led to several ‘traditional’ investigations in print and broadcast. She helped uncover how a desalination plant was lying idle after receiving EUR 300 million in subsidies or how cigarette manufacturers were awarded millions to develop their factories.
Getting the data in a structured format using scrapers or character recognition software is only the first step. Next, Barr explained, journalists can look for elements that contradict the rules (e.g. subsidies given to arms or tobacco companies) or around companies known for their mafia or crime connections. Another approach is hypothesis-based. Strange voting patterns around a local legislation might be linked to conflicts of interest, for instance.
The EU expenditures database can be mashed-up with other sources, such as national registers, where additional information can be pulled. Slovak website Znasichdani, for instance, monitors companies that were awarded public tenders. Switzerland’s Infocube released an application that shows the companies national MPs have a stake in. Each of these initiatives provide material for civic-minded and highly compelling journalism.
Databases, which are often not visible in Google’s index, offer factual bits of information that can prove crucial in some investigations. Knowing that a company folded months after it received government funding, for instance, clearly hints at misdemeanor. Relying on hard data in addition to the usual unnamed quotes is the basis for precision journalism (what Wikileaks’ Julian Assange referred to as scientific journalism), a way of working that provides for more robust results than traditional methods.
The juice is at the national level
Despite these efforts to dig stories, the EU budget is likely among the cleanest in Europe. The Santer Commission, for instance, resigned in 1999 over a fraud scandal where the key charge was a dubious hire by Commissioner Edith Cresson. She took in a close friend and had him paid for two year at the tune of EUR 50,000 a year to produce a 24-page report. Outrageous, certainly. But the sum represents less than a minute’s worth of government corruption in Italy, which reaches up to EUR 60 billion a year (no one resigned).
Focusing too much on EU money should not lead European journalists to neglect national and local affairs. The openness of EU institutions (relative to most others in continental Europe) should not work against it but should be used by journalists as a launching pad to investigate bigger organisations. After all, the EU budget represents only about 2 percent of global government expenditures in Europe.
Participants engaged on this path. Brussels-based investigative journalist Mehmet Koksal, for instance, set out during the workshop to scraping the public journal of the Belgian state to mine the relations between public officials and their private-sector activities.
But such initiatives will be hard to implement without more robust coding skills. The workshop showed that there was a profound need for all kind of skills, from data scraping to statistical analysis to data visualisation. Training will be needed in these areas for journalists to become really proficient with data.
What’s more, the question of the value of data-driven reporting is still pushed under the carpet. Barr’s investigation on Structural funds took eight months. A gross approximation would put the price tag of such an enterprise above EUR 50,000. Not many newsrooms can be convinced in putting that kind of amount on the table and fewer journalists still would be able to commit it on their own. Once the value of a data-based investigation is understood, getting funding will be easier. Assessing the profitability of a data-driven approach must be the next step for the #ddj community.
Resources from the workshop:
By Nicolas Kayser-Bril, data journalist.
Source: Data Driven Journalism website
I remember falling in love with Korea in the year 2000, when the then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited North Korea.
I was glued to the documentary on television, where she could be seen offering a basketball to Kim Jong-il, the leader of one of the most closed countries in the world. I was so surprised to see this man, Kim Jong-il, grinning like a child as he held the ball autographed by the NBA star Michael Jordan. He seemed so nice and yet I knew that he was oppressing 23 millions of North Koreans.
The desire to travel to this secretive country increased by the day, until finally, in August 2006, I was able to travel to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital that is hidden from the eyes of the world, when I was invited to take part in a trip organised by the Korean Friendship Association based in Spain.
I spent 11 days in North Korea before travelling to South Korea. Unfortunately, my stay in South Korea only lasted five days, just enough time to carry out a few interviews with refugees, NGOs and university teachers. It did not give me a chance to feel South Korea, the Republic of Korea.
From that year on, I started writing the first and only weblog in Portugal exclusively dedicated to the Korean peninsula.
In 2009, I came across a unique opportunity to return to South Korea. The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the Korean Press Foundation (KPF) were organising a fellowship programme that seemed to have been especially tailor-made for me. I sent in my application and a few weeks later, was delighted to find out that I had been accepted!
Back to South Korea
Landing in Korea is like landing in another world. A world of taste, colour, tension, calm, past, future, so many apparent contradictions and yet all coexisting in a harmonious partnership.
The EJC/KFP programme started off with a series of lectures by well known Korean experts which gave our group of six European journalists a helpful overview on Korean culture and politics.
Over the following period of 12 days we were able to make contacts that would have taken us weeks to build otherwise. We visited the South Korean Parliament and had a talk with MPs from various political parties. This is when I discovered that there is a special room at the Parliament designed for the day of reunification between the two Koreas, a day which since the end of Korean War in 1953, so many Koreans have been waiting for.
We also met with the South Korean ambassador in charge of the nuclear issue and visited a few technology companies, which constitute some of South Korea’s strongest assets, as well as, perhaps, the most famous Korean company: Hyundai.
The programme took into account the areas of interest of each participant. One of the most intense moments for me was the trip we took to the DMZ. Located about 30 kms to the north of Seoul, the Demilitarised Zone bears an ironic name, since it is one of the most militarised areas in the world.
The 38th parallel marking the border between North and South Korea is a mere foot away from North Korea. It was an impressive experience to return to the same place I had visited in 2006, but this time on the other side of the border.
Expanding my knowledge and my network
During our stay we were each invited to share a dinner with a Korean family. This gave me a chance to speak with Korean people on a personal level, learn about their traditions and hear their thoughts about their country.
Meal time was always a moment of pure enjoyment. We were treated to an abundance of colours and flavours and kimchi, bulgogi, bibimba and other delicacies were all served at just the right time and with the right level of spiciness.
Our rich programme took us to various parts of Korea, including the important harbour city of Busan and its fascinating fish market where customers can buy what they want and have it cooked right in front of their eyes - a must see!
Our visit to Jeju Island was another highlight of the trip. There we saw enigmatic women, some of them older than 70 years, who still maintain the tradition of diving into the sea of Jeju, looking for oysters, octopus and other fish to earn money and sustain their families. They can dive for hours on end and without any oxygen support.
Finally, in Jeju, we enjoyed a fruitful meeting with a group of Korean journalists. I have kept these contacts until today and they have been precious. I appeal to my fellow Korean colleagues whenever I need to prepare a radio programme involving Korean affairs.
Overall, my portfolio of Korean contacts grew exponentially during this trip. This was very valuable, especially for someone like myself who is keeping a weblog devoted exclusively to Korean affairs.
For European journalists, sometimes so far removed from Asia, the EJC/KFP programme is an excellent opportunity to better understand one of the most dynamic world economies that continues to keep its ancient traditions alive.
The only problem is… you won’t want to return home!
By Rita Colaço
The 2011 KPF/EJC fellowship programme will take place between 22 August and 3 September 2011.
Apply online before 29 May 2011!
Researchers need reporters and vice versa, but how do we strike the balance between a story that sells and a story that informs?
By definition, high-tech research pushes the limits of human understanding, and translating this into something understandable for the general public is notoriously difficult.
Sometimes journalists don’t go far enough and the story is lost in complex, stilted language. Sometimes they go too far, simplifying or promising too much about the next breakthrough in anything from healthcare to the environment.
Doing too little loses the reader; going too far raises expectations. Where there is no follow-through, this dents the credibility of researcher and reporter alike. Either approach is likely to widen the gap in understanding – and sympathy – between scientists and the general public.
So is there a third way? Diederik S. Wiersma, researcher at the European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy (LENS), thinks so. While hosting young reporters for the project ‘REsearch LAbs for TEaching journalists’, he spoke to EJC Editor Howard Hudson, and gave his views on the beauty and necessity of fundamental research.
There’s a fine line between oversell and underachievement when it comes to science journalism. How should researchers and reporters try to hook the general public?
DW: The tendency is to try to get people’s attention by explaining all the possible applications of a certain result. The risk is that the researcher being interviewed is doing whatever he can to find or invent any possible application. That may not be very realistic, but there is so much pressure to invent something and use it to capture the attention.
I have the feeling that it’s not very necessary to do that. It seems the easy way for the journalist because saying things like “this is going to cure cancer” or “this is going to make you wealthier and healthier from tomorrow onwards” is the easiest way to hook the general public. Clearly, that’s not always possible or justified.
I feel that journalists should do something more: they should try to convey the beauty of the scientific result as such. That is in order of magnitude more difficult than just inventing a couple of applications from the result. It is more about seeing the beauty of the world in which we are living, and the beauty of understanding that world.
Do you mean hooking the audience with beautiful images? Like your photograph (above) that appeared on the cover of Nature magazine?
DW: That is something that helps. That is an artistic expression of a scientific result that has both a didactic and an aesthetically appealing aspect to it. But it’s more than just the artistic beauty of something.
It is really the excitement you have if you understand your world better. The excitement you have when you look at the light emitted by stars millions and millions of years ago and which only now reaches your eye.
That is not immediately useful for curing cancer but it’s something that enriches our world and distinguishes us from animals. Animals need to find food, to reproduce and somehow survive—but we are more than that. We have cultural interests. We want to have a fuller, richer life than just bare survival.
Did you became more aware of these cultural aspects while working in Florence?
DW: No, it’s unrelated. That has always been my driving force for doing research… I always had the feeling that what I’m doing is nearer to the work of an artist than it is to the work of a normal employee.
What you’re doing is very creative, in the work itself, how you do it, and what’s behind it – which is this curiosity in trying to understand how the world works around you.
So you feel empowered by the research environment in Italy?
DW: I’m not sure if that’s the research environment in Italy in general, but it’s definitely the research environment at LENS, the lab I’m in at the moment, which is very positive and inspiring. People are very enthusiastic about what they’re doing and about sharing their results with others.
It’s a very friendly, competitive environment. So on the one hand, it’s very collaborative but on the other hand it’s a very productive environment in which people are trying to get results and working hard to make progress. It’s the main reason that I’ve stayed here so long, because I think it’s a unique combination.
Either you have a lab in which everyone is really friendly and nothing is happening or you have a place where everyone is working very hard and competing with each other and not sharing any results. Neither of the two is the right environment for doing research because in the end what you’re trying to do is to understand nature and get excited about that. The first thing you want to do is go to a colleague next door and say “look what I’ve found!” “See how this works – now we understand it!”
That works if you have that combination of enthusiasm and hard work, as sometimes it is not so easy to make any progress at all. And on the other hand, the openness and trust in each other so you can share your results without having to be paranoid about things getting stolen.
Tell us more about your own work and your strategies for getting published.
DW: The topic that our group is dealing with at LENS is photonics: how light waves behave in photonic materials. Our daily life in the lab consists of a lot of thinking, a lot of doing experiments, aligning optics and lasers and trying to get all the equipment to work. So there is a lot of time involved in getting the experiments going.
The most exciting part is, once you have some experimental results and bits and pieces of theory, when you start to sit down again together and to understand it and interpret your results. That is the added value of making a good scientific paper: you don’t simply report on what has been done and what the outcome was, but you give a deeper understanding of what that means and the physical insight that comes out of that.
That is our strategy of getting published. We don’t think all the time about getting the paper published. We try to get the insight and once you have a nice result and it is really good stuff, then you write it in a paper that’s easy to read and easy to understand. This usually gets published easily because you have written a good paper.
So it’s the opposite: we don’t think what do we have to do to get published, it’s rather “how do we get good results”? Then getting that published is automatic. Sometimes you have difficulties or misunderstandings, but that’s always resolvable.
What I really hate is repeating tiny little results or writing the same thing three or four times for different journals in a slightly different way because it’s completely useless. It’s just time lost. It would be like Rembrandt trying to make photocopies of his paintings. He wouldn’t have any satisfaction about the work.
The same approach applies to scientific as well as non-scientific publishing: for the general public, newspapers, things that are in between – like Physics Today, Scientific American – I love writing those kinds of papers because it gives you the chance to explain what you’re doing to a very broad audience.
Again this is the moment when you can try to get this excitement about nature and to somehow convey a little of that to the general public. And if you manage to do that, that’s a great satisfaction, especially if you can do it without having to oversell your results. If you do that clearly, that is when the general public sees the beauty of it.
That is what I think a journalist should try to do: try to really understand it and explain it clearly in simple terms, and then people will say “that is interesting!”. When the baker or the butcher in my village understand my scientific results, that is when I have achieved something in journalism or scientific publishing.
You’re a Dutch researcher, working in Italy, published in the UK (Nature magazine) and USA (Physical Review Letters). What are the main differences in working with the media in these various countries?
DW: The most surprising thing is that I didn’t find such big differences. I had quite good experiences so far with journalists that wrote about our work. I always try to spend a lot of time with the journalist to talk about the results, to understand them, and once he or she has written the article, I always give feedback.
You recently visited China on business. How is the scientific landscape there compared with Europe?
DW: I went to China for just a week to teach. I didn’t have any contacts with journalists, but it was very interesting to see their very different way of working. What was very interesting to see is that the Chinese Government is investing heavily in fundamental research; so not necessarily application-driven.
Just looking at the statistics, at the moment in China it is easier to get funding for fundamental research than it is in Europe or the USA. That is completely the reverse from what we’re used to; as we’re used to seeing the Chinese copying what we are doing and not adding a lot of technology.
What they have decided is that, with their money, they should now invest in fundamental research to create the basis for technological development in their country. That is something that we have forgotten in the meantime, that we’re doing less of now in Europe and the USA. I’m very curious to see what consequences that will have in 10 years’ time…
They now understand that you have to do fundamental research to create a knowledge basis, from which the engineering can develop all kind of new technologies and devices. Of course it takes courage to do that because you are creating knowledge that is accessible to everyone. Chinese research results can be used by US engineers to develop technology, so it’s investment for the general benefit of mankind, and it’s new for China to take that approach.
They have a very different system and a lot of decisions are taken by the relatively small group of people that form the central committee. A local professor told me that the central committee had simply decided that a lot of the money that they’ve made in the economic boom should now be used to do basic research…
There may be problems due to the lack of democracy; but it’s impressive to see that the people running the country in China understand that you have to do basic research. This is something that in Europe we don’t manage to justify to the taxpayer anymore. There could be an important role here for European science journalists to improve on this in the future.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
REsearch LAbs for TEaching journalists (RELATE) is a project funded by the European Commission under the Science in Society research area of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
In 2009-10, 80 young journalists are visiting labs across Europe, interviewing researchers, then publishing their findings. These young journalists are ‘embedded’ on week-long study tours, giving them the inside track on all kinds of research.
This is not a PR exercise: participants are encouraged to explore all sides of the issue in question – whether healthcare, climate change or laser research – and to comment on both the benefits and impacts of the research.
Project partners include the European Journalism Centre (The Netherlands), Minerva Consulting and Communication (Belgium), and three European research bodies: ENEA (Italy), EPFL (Switzerland) and TÜBITAK (Turkey). In 2010, the project welcomed new labs, including ICFO (Barcelona), INRA (Paris) and LENS (Florence).
For more on RELATE, please see the participants’ blogs and interviews with Dr Markus Lehmkuhl of the Freie Universität Berlin, and Professor Mark Brake and Seema Jilani of the Science Communication Research Unit at Glamorgan University (UK).
Filed under projects.