The responsibility of journalism in combating abuses of power
“Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”, said Povilas Poderskis at the training “Let´s go Public” in Vilnius. During 5 days, more than 20 young journalists from all over Europe produced multimedia content about abuses of power and established a network of professionals, open to the general public, to report on corruption.
Poderskis is a Lithuanian data journalist, and was a special guest at the training. Through his lecture, he showed how Lithuanian journalists and tech professionals are collaborating in collecting, sharing and curating data through platforms like the portal http://atviras.vilnius.lt/ or http://freedata.lt/, and how this collaboration has led to stories that have the potential to impact upon society and foster changes in politics and people’s mindsets. According to Poderskis, it all starts with the formula of corruption, which is “corruption = monopoly + discretion – accountability”. Data Investigative journalism can help to make abuses visible and to demand more accountability.
Media4Change hosted young journalists from all over Europe in this training from 3rd to 7th of July in Vilnius. This was the third and last part of the Reporting Corruption Project (ACRP), an initiative created by European Youth Press (EYP), aimed to give young journalists tools to tackle corruption and to report on it professionally.
The training was built upon the idea of using the most advanced journalistic and communication tools in order to tackle corruption and to report on it in the most innovative way. In addition to the use of data journalism to produce appealing stories, there is the important work that consists in making these stories visible. In fact, it is a pity when a group of journalists make an exhaustive and accurate work in a story, but that story does not transcend beyond the little group of already involved people.
To tackle this issue in the best way possible, Urtė Žukauskaitė – Zabukė, from National Institute for Social Integration (NISI), explained her point of view on how communication tools often used in content branding, could also be used to disseminate objective and professional journalistic works. From this perspective, Žukauskaitė – Zabukė explained how to make the message more appealing, with examples of communication campaigns in a wide variety of fields. These tools, she said, could also be used to fight against corruption and report on it, creating effective social messages, increasing societal awareness and concern of corruption and spreading the information. The participants had the chance to experiment with the tool CANVA, making suggestive images that could attract the public to read a story or to attend a conference about corruption.
The participants attended these lectures in order to gain knowledge, but this training was mainly practical. Bert Roymans, from StampMedia, gave an introductory lecture on audiovisual production, where he gave resources to make videos and stories more attractive, such as Timeline, or Infogram, and other ones listed in their website. And then, it was high time for the journalists to do what they know to do best, report. They divided themselves into four groups and started to work on the multimedia content: videos and infographics.
This training is the third stage of the Reporting Corruption project. The participants had undergone a first stage, consisting of a training in March in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted by StampMedia, where they created a toolkit on how to report on corruption. In the second stage, the participants individually organised and hosted an event in their countries of residence, such as roundtables with experts in corruption.
This project is only the beginning of a longer strategy. Now, a trans-European network of young journalists reporting on corruption is being created. This network will be able to interact in the Anti-Corruption Reporting Platform (ACRP), a website will soon be available, where journalists and citizens can share information and work together safely.
The Reporting Corruption project (ACRP) is supported by the European Youth Foundation of Council of Europe.To help make this international collaboration come true, along with EYP and NISI, five other organizations are partners of the project: Manana Youth Educational Cultural Center (Armenia), Hromadske Lviv / Громадське Львів (Ukraine), FEJS Latvija (Latvia), Cafébabel International (France), and StampMedia (Belgium). These organizations helped to take a step forward towards the creation of a network of professional journalists and citizens that are concerned about corruption and want to combat it by making abuses of power public.