Foundation for Investigative Journalism Builds Capacity of Early Career Journalists on Social Justice Reporting

Fisayo Soyombo
Founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ)

The Foundation for Investigative Journalism and Social Justice (FIJ) has conducted a one-day training for undergraduates and early career journalists in the art of producing high-quality, critical, and impactful social justice stories.

The training which took place in Lagos on August 8, 2023, was used to equip 15 carefully selected participants, out of a pool of over 132 applicants from across Nigeria, with the skills of social justice journalism, highlighting its significance and providing practical guidance for its effective practice.

Mr. Fisayo Soyombo, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FIJ, emphasized that the training was designed for undergraduates and recent graduates due to his belief in the value of nurturing journalists from an early stage. He said this approach aims to transform them into advocates of social justice before they become part of the system they are meant to scrutinize.

Fisayo said social justice journalism serves as a safeguard against fraudulent activities and societal ills, among its various roles. The training sessions were divided into three parts, which delved into the concept of social justice journalism and its far-reaching impacts on society.

In one of the sessions, Fisayo portrayed social justice journalism as an uncommon path due to the inherent risks it involves. He shared instances of threats and unwarranted legal actions that FIJ and its reporters have faced due to the confrontational nature of social justice journalism, which often implicates powerful entities such as major corporations and government bodies.

Expatiating on FIJ’s journey, he stated that FIJ has overcome many, revealing that at times it had relied on personal funds and even loans to sustain itself in order not to compromise its principles.

He also stressed the need for journalists to maintain objectivity by avoiding close ties with politicians, as such associations can skew their reporting and undermine their impartiality.

Ms. Comfort Adetoye, FIJ’s programme officer, in her presentation, discussed the concept of social impact and the significance of measuring the effects of journalistic work to enhance productivity.

Ms. Adetoye highlighted that measuring impact enables journalists to evaluate the outcomes of their stories, assess their success, and develop strategies to minimize negative influences while maximizing positive contributions to individuals and situations.

Ms. Nino Obidigbo, one of the participants, said the training has broadened her perspective on using journalism as a tool to combat social injustices in Nigeria. She said she was inspired by FIJ’s achievements in just two years and envisioned a future where other media organizations would embrace the audacious concept of social justice journalism.

Mr. Adetayo Adeolu, another participant, said his main takeaway was the importance of refraining from financial incentives or “brown envelopes” that could compromise his judgment as a journalist, adding that his own experience as a victim of social injustice and police brutality heightened his dedication to fighting against such issues.

Ms. Monsurah, another trainee, emphasized that it was significant distinguish between genuine social injustices and situations that might only appear unjust at first glance. She recognized the need for journalists to address the day-to-day challenges and injustices faced by ordinary Nigerians at the grassroots level and to hold the government and other influential institutions accountable for their actions.

The training was carried out under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusion and Accountability (CMEDIA) Project, a multi-level intervention that supports media independence, improved transparency, accountability, and good governance in state and local governments with more public awareness on the need for accountability, and amplified marginalised voices. The three-year project is being implemented with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and is funded by the MacArthur Foundation.