By Anton Harber

There are a number of metrics we can use to show the success of this year’s 19th African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) and its status as the leading annual gathering of the continent’s working journalists.

We could point to the attendance at this year’s three-day gathering at Wits University – over 400 delegates from at least 35 African and 20 other countries.

We could point to the list of top-notch speakers: more than 150 in 80 sessions, including many of Africa’s best known journalists, such as Anas Amarayaw Anas, John Allan Namu, Hamadou Tidiane Sy and Peter Murimi.

We could highlight that this year’s conference had more Francophone African participation than ever before, and stronger gender representation, with 46% of the speakers identifying as women.

There was the great journalism that was showcased and the intensity of issues discussed, dealing with all the major triumphs and challenges of African journalism. Themes included artificial intelligence, journalists’ safety, health reporting, financial investigation and environmental crime.

We could point to more than 30 training sessions ranging from podcasting to using artificial intelligence. And then there was the digital forensic Masterclass, run by Bellingcat, global leaders in these new investigative tools, and sponsored by the Norwegian organisation, SKUP.

There was the first WCJ/AIJC/Absa African Investigative Journalist of the Year Award, won by Tom Odula of Kenya.

But perhaps the best measure of all was that 83% of the participants said afterwards that they left the gathering with many new story ideas, and another 15% said they had at least one new story idea. Delegates highlighted the networking opportunities, the chance to hear from many of the continent’s best journalists and the new tools and techniques that were demonstrated.

And 65% of delegates rated the conference as a 5/5 “Brilliant” while another 14% gave it a “very good” 4/5.

Overall, it was an intense three days of discussions, learning, sharing and networking.

The importance of collaboration for contemporary investigative work, particularly across borders, was emphasised in a keynote speech from Brant Houston of the Global Network of Investigative Journalists. The impact of Artificial intelligence on journalism drew much interest, including a keynote from Vukosi Marivati and Anthandiwe Saba and others, like Ron Nixon of Associated Press, talking about how they already make use of this new technology.

We thank the attendees, speakers and organisers for making the 19th African Investigative Journalism Conference the success it was, and eagerly await next year’s event. 


Photos: Chanté Schatz