Across the world, journalists have been key to uncovering malfeasance in the natural resources sector. Media have exposed illicit activities by international oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria. They have shed light on Cameroon petroleum contracts that bring few benefits to locals and to national accounts.
Done well, journalism can set the agenda for natural resource governance issues. Journalism can prevent conversations around oil, gas and mining from devolving into political claims and counter-claims. Well-executed reporting can ensure continued factual, evidence-based and well-sourced sector information. Media’s essential oversight make it a crucial tool to ensure better resource governance.
NRGI supports investigative and analytical journalism through global and country focused fellowships. NRGI’s fellowships offer training on technical aspects of resource governance, build reporting skills such as data journalism and afford fellows the independence to discover areas of interest and uncover issues relevant in their home countries. In Nigeria, a fellow’s investigation highlights gaps in government’s collection of royalty payments and the resultant loss of billions of dollars of potential revenues.
NRGI’s role is grounded in the provision of technical assistance to fellows, while emphasizing editorial independence. NRGI partners with third-party organizations and senior journalists to manage fellows and provides reporting resources in the form of NRGI publications and data tools, such as Twelve Red Flags: Corruption Risks in the Award of Extractive Sector Licenses and Contracts and repositories of annotated resource contracts and project payment figures.
Reporting fellowships afford journalists space to dig deeper into stories that day-to-day reporting constraints of time and funding don’t always allow. Fellowships offer hands-on support for independent story ideas and a chance to work toward publishing long-form pieces or series. Such stories have the potential to hold power brokers to account: they illuminate complex subjects and promote a shared understanding of the policies, laws and dynamics of the sector. NRGI mitigates risks of providing investigative journalism fellowships through partnerships and digital security training particular to each context we work in.
NRGI is offering the following opportunities for journalist training and growth this year.
In partnership with 100Reporters, NRGI will support three senior journalists from Ghana, Myanmar, Tanzania and Uganda to work on an investigative reporting project on the extractive sector. 100Reporters brings a unique set of skills to the table. With decades of experience producing quality investigations around the world, their staff are able to navigate different reporting climates with the legal and ethical know-how to publish only objective and credible information on sensitive subjects, such as the mislabeling of diamonds to subvert the Kimberley Process for conflict stones in Cameroon. This fellowship is for mid-career journalists experienced in watchdog reporting to cover extractives in their countries.
NRGI supports in-depth reporting that drives positive change in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria through the yearlong Media for Oil Reform Fellowship, which started in 2017. The fellowship provides up to three senior journalists the opportunity to deepen their mastery of oil and gas reporting through a range of capacity development activities, including participation in international media and extractive industries events. NRGI provides support to cover stories in three core areas: broad transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector; governance of the state-owned oil company; and issues around the licensing and rights allocation. The fellows also participate in a regional extractive industry course in late August and an African investigative journalism conference in October.
Resource governance issues are popularized in the media, but are not always reported on in an accurate or balanced manner. In cooperation with Media Council of Tanzania, NRGI is supporting three journalism fellows to report on resource governance issues confronting Tanzania for a period of nine months, starting this month. Journalists will attend a regional extractive industry course in late August and an African investigative journalism conference in October. They are supported with mentorship and technical assistance from NRGI and partners, and will cover the opportunities and challenges of Tanzania’s offshore gas discoveries and major governance problems facing the industry. Mid- to senior-career journalists with a record of resource sector reporting will have the opportunity to hone their knowledge and to explore new methods of analyzing oil, gas and mining sectors in Tanzania.
Toyin Akinniyi is a media capacity development associate with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). Ryan Powell is a media development associate with NRGI.