A transnational network to support investigative journalism in Eastern Europe and connect experienced investigative journalists in the region, has been launched.
N-vestigate aims to bring together journalists from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and the EU, to share experiences and work on collaborative cross-border projects. Investigative journalism has been neglected in many of these places in the past, often for political reasons. In Armenia, which currently has only one investigative media outlet, journalists are regularly subject to repression and in some cases have suffered physical attacks.
Investigative journalism in Georgia thrived until the early 2000s. However since the 2003 Rose Revolution, and the coming to power of Misha Saakashvili, investigative work has been heavily suppressed. In post-Communist Moldova, the media has suffered from the lack of democratic traditions, insufficient financial resources, few management and marketing skills, and self-censorship.
N-vesitigate is aimed primarily at journalists who already have experience with investigative research, and whose work is of a high professional standard. However, n-vestigate will also set up a number of smaller workshops for less experienced journalists. It hopes that journalists who have been through its training scheme can, in turn, set up local workshops for others.
The project will be managed by the Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe, (n-ost). Annika Gläser, the coordinator, said that previous projects have revealed a significant gap between the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and actual practice. N-vestigate is a response to this, Gläser said.
The project works with four non-profit organisations: the Regional Press Development Institute (Ukraine), RISE Moldova (Moldova), Hetq (Armenia) and Liberali (Georgia). Together, these organisations will promote cross-border research that will then be published.
Investigative Focus and Social Impact
N-vestigate aims to engage with a wide variety of topical issues. These might include investigations into smuggling or corruption, but also into social issues, such as education or health care. A project could for example focus on counterfeit medicine, or on trafficking of endangered animals, which are sold from Africa to the Ukraine or Armenia for the private enjoyment of the wealthy.
Articles will be posted on n-ost’s own platform, as well as in media outlets where the participating journalists work. At the same time, n-vestigate plans to collaborate with a high-profile media partner. “We have a television journalist in our team, but our initial focus will be on the print and online media,” Gläser said. “But the project’s goal is to work across different kinds of media outlets in the future,” she added.
To ensure that investigations have impact, Gläser hopes to also organise campaigns tailored to the stories. To achieve this n-vestigate will also involve other practitioners: media lawyers, activists, policy advisors, and university deans — people who are committed to a broader socio-political resonance of the stories produced by n-vestigate.
Gläser said that n-vestigate will work with existing networks of investigative journalists: “There are actually many projects [such as Correctiv and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project – OCCRP] working in a similar context. We see ourselves not as competition but as a supplement to their work.
N-ost, which is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has been committed to improving reporting on Eastern Europe since 2006. The network brings together professionals from a range of disciplines, including local investigative journalists, colleagues from other countries, as well as legal experts, decision-makers from politics, and civil society and open data activists.
This article first appeared on the EJO German website