The African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC), an annual conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg for journalists of African descent, takes place yearly at Johannesburg. However, the style for the 16th edition of the conference changed as the coronavirus pandemic affected convergence. This led to the first virtual edition of the conference.
The conference, which took place on weekdays between October 5, 2020, and October 29, 2020, saw registered participants and fellows through a series of trainings and comprehensive interaction on trending and pressing issues in journalism.
Sessions were held how to stay sane as a journalist and maintain good mental health, confronting and exposing human trafficking, persevering and facing challenges of African Investigative Journalism, amidst dozens of other topics. Major highlights from the event also included Anton Harber’s book launch, Carlos Cardoso Memorial lecture, ICIJ’s latest blockbuster expose and the African Fact-checking Awards, which saw journalists winning prizes for their works.
While speaking at the first session of the event, Anton Haber, the convener of the conference from WITS in his keynote speech mentioned that the virtual edition is more inclusive and has been able to bring together more journalists from across the country. He further mentioned that it would share ways to proof and expand the works journalist do, cover lots of opportunities about new tools and techniques, cutting edge stuff that powers investigations and chances to meet and link up with colleagues and peers.
As predicted, given the advantage of the virtual session, first-time attendees flooded the 2020 AIJC event and, subsequently, over 400 attendees were onboarded via Whova––the event app.
Tulani Ngwenya, a journalist from Pretoria South Africa and a first-time attendee, said the conference was a great experience for him as most sessions shared critical information and provided a splendid platform for networking.
Another journalist from Kenya, Kevin Kamau Ngendo, said: “Being my first time of attending the conference, I found it very interesting and impactful. As a young investigative journalist, I was equipped with skills that will enhance my career growth in a big way. I can comfortably say with a great measure of pride that being selected as an African Investigative Journalism Conference Fellow was a great honour and lifetime opportunity.”
Nigerian journalists were also not absent in the various sessions, as veterans like Oluwatosin Alagbe, Fisayo Soyombo, Kiki Mordi, Ruona Meyer, Adebayo Okeowo, and Adekunle Yusuff, among many others, took part as facilitators and guests. Many others were attendees and fellows.
In the end, any journalist who attended the AIJC 2020 would easily have seen it as a catalyst for networking. It not only provided the chance to network with journalists from other parts of Africa, it was also a chance to listen to many award-winning veterans in the field share their experiences. Even more, it was a chance to learn, communicate and increase one’s knowledge of rarely discussed topics of concern.
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