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Cablegate: U.S. Speaker Ana Arana: Workshop Brings To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002321

SIPDIS


STATE FOR AF/PD (SKOP), IIP/G/AF (BOCHNER, HOWARD)
LAGOS FOR PAS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SCUL OIIP PTER NI
SUBJECT: U.S. SPEAKER ANA ARANA: WORKSHOP BRINGS TO
LIFE STRATEGIES FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM


1. SUMMARY: A dozen journalists drawn from
independent and government-owned print and
electronic media in Abuja participated in a two-and-
a-half-day workshop on investigative journalism,
July 15-17. Ana Arana, consultant for Inter-
American Press Association, used story ideas
suggested by the journalists and a simulated press
conference with a government official to lead
participants through a systematic process of
applying investigative journalism techniques.
Participants said at the end of the workshop that
they would put their newly acquired skills into
practice. End Summary.


2. DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY: The workshop started
with a simple identification exercise where each
participant was asked to say why he/she became a
journalist. From their responses Arana gave the
first lesson of the workshop: "Journalism is a
passion, not just a job." This was followed by an
exercise on news values, and a mock press conference
with the chairman of the Nigerian Senate Aviation
Committee that probed his views on aviation safety
in Nigeria. Afterward, Arana critiqued the skills
of the participants in asking questions and
identifying leads from the responses.


The second day witnessed more intense discussions as
Arana took the class through the process of
organizing various story ideas, including aviation
safety, elections and religious violence.
Throughout, Arana emphasized that writing
investigative reports is a process that needs
organization, careful thinking and questioning. The
program included tips on investigative techniques,
cultivating sources and principles of good
reporting. The workshop concluded with a video clip
and discussion on journalistic ethics--a crucial
issue in Nigeria. Most participants admitted that
they or their colleagues had received "brown
envelopes" in return for favorable coverage.


3. JUSTIFICATION AND OBJECTIVE: Nigeria may have
the most vibrant press in Africa, a press that
endured decades of military dictatorships and helped
to pave the way for the transition to democracy.
Since then, the press has shown a robust willingness
to criticize government policies, personalities and
programs. But reporting is short on accuracy and
long on sensationalism. Journalists lack
investigative skills and a clear understanding of
the role of the press in ensuring responsible
governance. The workshop was intended to provide
skills and attitudes that will help the press
fulfill its role.


4. MPP UMBRELLA THEME AND AUDIENCE REACHED:
Strengthening of democracy. Audience was a targeted
group of twelve journalists drawn from independent
and government-owned print and electronic media in
Abuja.


5. USG SUPPORT: Excellent.


6. RESULT/IMPACT: Very good. Arana was effective in
communicating to participants that doing
investigative reporting is a process that needs
careful organization and specific skills which she
illustrated through exercises. Her interactive
approach involved and energized the participants,
who left with a greater appreciation of the
importance of investigative reporting in ensuring
good governance. Some said they would take up the
issue of aviation safety and we are waiting to see
how they will tackle this and other key issues
facing Nigeria.
JETER

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