“Uncovering Asia” Kicks Off in Nepal

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Investigative journalists, data journalists, and media law and security experts at the welcome reception of Uncovering Asia 2016.

Corrupt authorities, be very afraid. The Uncovering Asia 2016 conference has assembled nearly 350 top investigative reporters, data journalists, and media law and security experts from 45 countries in Kathmandu, Nepal to tool up, network and collaborate on cross-border investigative projects.

Organized by the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the Centre of Investigative Journalism (CIJ) Nepal, the conference will feature a keynote speech from famed editor Walter Robinson, who led the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team in exposing the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, as well as 60 panels and workshops over the weekend of Sep. 22-25.

At the welcome reception Thursday, where scores of journalists networked over food and drinks, GIJN executive director David Kaplan highlighted the significant investigative reporting Asian journalists are producing, from South Korea to Pakistan, despite the many challenges they face.

“We are investing in skills and sharing knowledge. Asian journalists will be able to walk away from this conference with the latest tools and techniques and form collaborations with their colleagues worldwide,” Kaplan said.

The 3-day program features a smorgasbord of panels, including inside stories on the latest international exposés, India’s extraordinary women muckrakers, and tips on funding investigative journalism.

Top investigative journalists and trainers in the field, including Columbia Journalism Schools’s Sheila Coronel, ICIJ’s Mar Cabra and The Korea Center for Investigative Journalism’s Yongjin Kim, are volunteering their time to train the next generation of muckrakers.

For Kim, sharing his experience in setting up Newstapa, a crowd-funded investigative journalism site, is especially significant because, he says, investigative journalism in Asia is still lacking.

“Investigative stories are the life and blood of journalism; the community and society needs it,” Kim said.

Thanks to the conference’s generous sponsors, more than 60 fellows were selected to attend the event, including Indonesia’s Ninok Hariyani, the founder of data journalism start-up Kabardata.com.

Hariyani said she’s eager to sit in on workshops to discuss startups, new journalism models and financing of investigations. “Where I come from, it is difficult to find funding and I want to learn more about this,” she said.

Malaysian journalist Kow Gah Chie, also a fellow, is keen on gaining investigative journalism skills and the know-how to protect her sources digitally. “Personally, I am not tech savvy and in any communication, it is easy to leave a trace that people can track. While the authorities probing journalists may be digital experts, a lot of journalists are not, which may land us in trouble with the law,” she said.

Gah Chie, who had to leave Malaysia’s Sarawak state abruptly after receiving threats for her reporting in the last state election, said she’s looking forward to the session on dealing with journalist harassment.

The conference will also feature several networking sessions to develop cross-border investigative collaborations, which is one of the reasons fellow Sonia Sarkar, from India, applied for the fellowship. “I wanted to network and meet journalists from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka because my reporting touches on these countries and sometimes you only get half-truths. When you know people who cover the same issues, that’s when you get a clearer insight,” she said.

Couldn’t join us this year? Follow the conference sessions live here.


imag8715-copyEunice Au is GIJN’s program assistant. She was previously a journalist in Malaysia for eight years and has written on a range of topics, including politics, crime, environment, terrorism, and entertainment. From 2011 to 2015, she worked for the New Straits Times. Her last position before joining GIJN was as Malaysia correspondent for Singapore’s The Straits Times.

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