The Global Investigative Journalism Network has brought 1,200 journalists from around the world to Johannesburg, South Africa, this week to discuss investigative reporting techniques and best practices. The conference will launch a yearlong Global Reporting Centre research project on the relationship between fixers and foreign correspondents, which involved the largest survey of global journalists ever conducted, with more than 450 responses.

Results from survey on fixers will launch at GIJN

The fixer-correspondent relationship is key to what we see as international reporting — to what becomes the global news,” said Dr. Shayna Plaut, a Research Manager at the GRC and the co-authors of the study. “But fixers are often simply not seen… The inherent power dynamic, which is often neglected by media organizations and correspondents, very much shapes the story itself.”

The study, funded by the Canadian Media Research Consortium and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts, involved an anonymous survey of 20 questions, which covers a variety of topics from security risks and editorial roles, to payment and publication credits. Thirty five respondents agreed to follow-up interviews, which added context to the quantitative data. The results provide a comprehensive look at the practice of foreign correspondence and the controversial role fixers play in international reporting.

The study data is available on the GRC’s website, and Nieman Reports is publishing an article with the findings. An academic paper is forthcoming next year.

Launch of African Muckraking

The GIJN conference will also host the launch of African Muckraking, by Anya Schiffrin, which is an anthology collection of 41 chapters on the best investigative reporting by African journalists. The book details stories of labour abuses, police brutality, women’s rights and the crisis of democracy throughout Africa, and is a follow-up to Schiffrin’s successful Global Muckraking: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism from Around the World.

Several of the chapter authors will be at the conference, including Peter Klein, Executive Director of the GRC, who wrote a chapter on how South African journalists exposed their country’s Apartheid-era bioweapons program.

“This book honours the challenges and struggles of so many brave African investigative journalists,” said Klein. “They often risk their lives to shine a light on corruption and rights violations, and their work has had immeasurable impact throughout the continent and globally.”

The GRC is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, a consortium of journalism organizations worldwide