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Media Rights Agenda trains journalists on how to use FOI act for investigative reporting

Media Rights Agenda trains journalists on how to use FOI act for investigative reporting
November 02
14:36 2023

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has organised a training for journalists in the south-west on how to use the Freedom of Information (FOI) act for investigative reporting.

The two-day workshop, which had 30 participants made up of media professionals from broadcast, print and online media organizations, was held from October 31 to November 1 in Ibadan, Oyo state capital.

The workshop was aimed at sensitising participants and building their capacity to effectively use the FOI act for investigative reporting by familiarising them with the key provisions of the act and how to make requests for information under the act.

The workshop had plenary presentations and break-out sessions that addressed different topics including an overview and elements of investigative reporting; the role of records and documents in investigative reporting; understanding the FOI act; FOI act and investigative reporting; and how journalists and the media can use the FOI act.

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The participants were also taught fact-checking and investigative reporting; making requests for information under the FOI act; deciding what investigative reports to carry out; interviews in investigative reporting; and how to present stories from investigative reporting.

The workshop highlighted the importance of the FOI act in empowering investigative journalists to access crucial information in the custody of public institutions and other non-governmental entities to which the act applies.

At the end of the workshop, the participants recommended measures to facilitate more impactful reporting of various issues, particularly those relating to transparency, accountability, good governance and development.

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Participants recommended focusing more on in-depth and impactful investigative reporting that help to ensure good governance.

“Critical media stakeholders such as journalism and mass communication training institutions, media support and media development organisations, media professional bodies and newsrooms are encouraged to devote more time and resources into creating awareness about the FOI act among journalists and building their capacity to utilise the law,” the participants said.

“Participants urged key stakeholders to put more effort and resources into providing continuous training for journalists in other areas such as investigative reporting techniques, fact-checking and information verification tools and other emerging technologies which can aid their work.

“Journalists, particularly those engaged in investigative reporting, should routinely mine available documents, records and data, including the annual budgets of federal and state governments, their audited public accounts, and other reports for information.

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“They should analyse such documents, records and data to ascertain their level of compliance with applicable laws, rules, regulations, codes and other standards.

“Any identified breaches should be the basis of reporting aimed at holding the government involved accountable.

“Journalists should take advantage of various tools, which are available digitally, online and offline, which can enhance their work, including in conducting research; analysing data; verifying information, among others, by identifying such tools, obtaining them and learning how to use them in order to improve their reporting.”

Participants also urged the media to give greater prominence to issues affecting women and other marginalised group.

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