In 2022, I had the incredible opportunity to be selected as one of the 13 journalists from across West Africa for the second cohort of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism (NGIJ) Fellowship of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
My entire application process was daunted by deep frustration and uncertainty because I struggled with having a stable internet connection.
After receiving the email notifying me of my selection, a riot of emotions took hold of me: excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment, all at once, washed over me as I read the message. I was completely drunk with joy. Then I felt a sense of pride in being recognized by the prestigious Media Foundation for West Africa and being entrusted with the opportunity to participate in its rigorous, but highly esteemed Fellowship. The realization that I was chosen from a competitive pool of journalists in West Africa has been immensely humbling. The validation of my skills and potential as an early-career journalist has boosted my confidence and affirmed my dedication to pursuing excellence in a vocation I have always yearned for Investigative Journalism.
In anticipation of the upcoming five months boot camp, expectation started to build in me. I felt a renewed sense of purpose, knowing that I would be embarking on a journey that would mould me into an investigative journalist. The excitement of gaining valuable knowledge and experiences, as well as the chance to network and collaborate with other talented journalists in the region, piqued my eagerness to begin the fellowship.
Then I prayed, thanked God, committed myself to His hands, and said, ‘’It has come to pass.’’
The Fellowship has been instrumental in equipping me with the essential tools, knowledge, and unwavering confidence needed to engage in critical, high-calibre, evidence-based, and comprehensive investigative reporting.
This transformative programme has not only enhanced my reporting abilities but has also emboldened me to fearlessly uncover truth and bring crucial issues to the forefront of the discourse in my community and country, Ghana.
Capacity and Skill Honing
The NGIJ Fellowship has been a priceless learning opportunity. Through a rigorous selection process that included applications, aptitude tests, and interviews, I sailed through. During the fellowship, I gained invaluable insights into various aspects of investigative journalism. I honed my research skills, learned advanced techniques for Fact-Checking and verification, and acquired a deep understanding of the ethical responsibilities that come with investigative reporting. The fellowship exposed me to cutting-edge tools and methodologies for modern investigative journalism, enabling me to delve deeper into complex stories with confidence.
The fellowship has also sharpened my appreciation of the facts so that I am now naturally on the lookout to ensure that I am not singing the praises of the rich and powerful with my stories and neglecting the plight of the poor.
Areas in my skillset that have been enhanced include research techniques, data analysis, interviewing, fact-checking, and storytelling. Through workshops, training sessions, and mentorship, I have honed my abilities to dig deeper into complex issues and make compelling presentations of my findings.
The fellowship has exposed me to a wide range of subjects and topics of relevance. By engaging with experts, experienced journalists, and industry professionals, I have gained a deeper understanding of social, political, and economic issues. Some of these personalities include Prof. Kwame Karikari, Umaru Fofana, and Manasseh Azure Awuni, whose stories have boosted my morale and changed my perception of journalism. This expanded knowledge base enables me to approach my stories from a well-informed perspective.
Pursuing the Truth Fearlessly
One of the most significant impacts of the fellowship has been the removal of fear and favour from my reporting. Before joining the fellowship, I was a community reporter, covering local news for the State-Owned news agency, the Ghana News Agency (GNA). While I enjoyed my work, I often felt hesitant to tackle controversial topics or expose corruption due to concerns about personal safety and potential backlash.
The fellowship equipped me with the necessary skills and provided me with resources, and a support system that I can count on when I have to investigate the powerful and expose the corrupt without hesitation. I learned to navigate the tightrope of the law, protect sources, and look out for my own safety while pursuing hard-hitting stories. The NGIJ Fellowship instilled in me the courage to hold those in power accountable, knowing that I have a network of fellow journalists and mentors for support and guidance.
Through the skills and knowledge gained, I have developed a strong knack for investigative reporting that is guided by the ethics of the vocation. This newfound confidence enables me to tackle challenging topics and hold those in power accountable. Even though some of the stories that were pursued during the Fellowship took a toll on me and the lives of my family, due to attempts to to silence me, I did not coil. Some of such stories are this, this, and this.
Nosing for Compelling Stories
Through the fellowship, I have developed the ability to produce compelling stories that resonate with audiences and contribute to positive change. I have learned to craft narratives that captivate readers, combining in-depth research with impactful storytelling techniques. The fellowship’s emphasis on critical, high-quality, and fact-based reporting has elevated the standard of my work and increased its impact on society.
I have learned to engage my audience through narrative techniques, visual storytelling, and the effective use of multimedia elements such as Mobile Journalism (MOJO). This skill set allows me to communicate complex issues effectively and engage a wider audience without unnecessary sophistication.
After the Fellowship and Into the Future
The Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship has impacted my career trajectory. As a result of the fellowship, I have transitioned from being a community reporter to a recognized investigative journalist. The skills and knowledge I acquired have equipped me to continue pursuing critical stories independently, amplifying my impact in exposing corruption and promoting transparency.
The Fellowship’s support did not end with the conclusion of the boot camp. I am now part of a network of alumni with numerous opportunities, ensuring that I stay updated on emerging trends in investigative journalism, deepening my expertise, and expanding my professional network.
Being part of the Fellowship has connected me with a cohort of like-minded journalists from Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Collaborating and exchanging ideas with colleagues allows me to learn from their experiences, expand my professional network, and set the pace to potentially work on joint investigative projects in future. These connections are invaluable as far as my career is concerned.
The Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship has been a turning point in my career. It has not only empowered me with the necessary skills and resources to be an effective investigative journalist but also instilled in me the courage to pursue the truth without fear.
Hard work Pays
I was fortunate to be recognized as the Most Promising Young Investigative Journalist after the boot camp. The acknowledgement boosted my confidence and served as fuel for my passion and dedication to this field. I must confess without a shadow of a doubt that that conferment on me has sharpened my desire to pursue stories that give hope to society. I am immensely grateful to the MFWA and the US Embassy in Ghana for Funding the 2022 NGIJ fellowship. With the fellowship’s support, I am now equipped to produce compelling stories that give hope to the vulnerable in my community and beyond.