1,000 journalists gather at US investigative media conference

1,000 journalists gather at US investigative media conference

SAN ANTONIO - Hürriyet Daily News
1,000 journalists gather at US investigative media conference

A panel titled ‘Reporting amid danger: When journalists are targeted and newsrooms are infiltrated’ in the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in San Antonio discussed the hardships journalists face at hotspots. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ

More than 1,000 news experts from all around the world gathered at the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference (IRE), the largest gathering of investigative journalists in the US, in June 20-23 San Antonio, Texas, in order to share best tools and resources for journalists.

At nearly 100 panels, workshops and roundtables, experts shared useful experiences, tips and tricks for a journalist’s everyday work.

The panel, “Reporting amid danger: When journalists are targeted and newsrooms are infiltrated” focused on the direction the freedom of the media was heading toward in countries of the “Arab awakening,” the phrase used by an Arab journalist who preferred to identify the movement in this way instead of by the “Arab Spring.”

Administrations in most of the Arab countries have not brought freedom to journalism in the wake of “revolutions” but instead, intimidation.

In Egypt, nearly 45 chief editors were replaced with the ones who were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Rana Sabbagh, executive director of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism said, speaking at the panel.

Journalists of As-Sabah in Tunisia were resisting against the assignment of a chief editor from the Muslim Brotherhood, said Sabbagh, adding that many journalists in Yemen were physically attacked, while Bahrain was “a big jail for journalists.”

In Jordan, her country, journalists were attacked not physically, but politically, according to Sabbagh. As an exercise of political intimidation, 222 websites were closed for the reason of “not being registered,” she noted.

“Chief editors are our biggest enemies,” she stated, reproaching the “lack of solidarity in newsrooms.”
Re:Baltica, the Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists, El Faro, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Investigative Reporting Project Italy, and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were among the organizations which participated in the IRE conference.

Efforts for charter

Marina Walker Guevara from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was among speakers of the “Collaborating across borders” panel, at which she explained the process of “Offshore leaks,” a financial scandal that unmasked details of 130,000 offshore accounts in April.

The ICIJ, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, collaborated with reporters around the world to produce the series of investigative reports, and was initially working just with 10 reporters and was not expecting such a wide hit.

Collecting initial records of assets of people obtained from 39 reporters around the world, the ICIJ set up a closed circle online data base in 2012 in order to share secret records with the contributing reporters, Guevara said. Investigations were launched in India, the Philippines, South Korea, Israel, Greece and Australia over the leaks, she said, adding that the reports had changed conversations in Europe on tax heavens.

The investigation expanded to a cache of 2.5 million secret records about the offshore assets of people from 170 countries and territories.

The number of reporters that the ICIJ is collaborating with has reached 112 from 58 countries, she noted.

At the panel “Mobile Apps for Reporting” of the IRE conference, Stephen Stock of NBC Bay Area focused on mobile apps that journalists can use, such as Wickr, which facilitates secure communication, or RecordMyCall, which can record outgoing and incoming phone calls on an android phone.

The session titled “The power of social media: Geolocation for news” focused on the importance of social media in the daily life of a journalist. Jennifer Peck from Banjo assessed getting sources for a specific event through Apps. Peck spoke about Banjo which is a location based service that allows users to receive post that are being sent from a specific place on that event one is searching.

Mark Luckie from Twitter, explained a feature that can allow users to determine where a tweet is coming from, and to search by location where the event is happening.

The IRE honored the U.S. Border Patrol with the “Golden Padlock Award” for its “unrelenting commitment to undermining the public’s right to know.”