Uncovering investigative journalism "secrets" at CIJM multimedia training

Tatiana Gherța

The Investigative Journalists Network members convened for a two-day training session on October 16 and 17, dedicated to investigative journalism. During this session, journalists within the network learned and applied new techniques to present information obtained during the documentation of their investigative reports in an interactive manner. The training was facilitated by Romanian investigative journalists Victor Cozmei and Adrian Mogoș. This investigative journalism training was organized by GIZ Moldova and the Center for Investigative Journalism from Moldova (CIJM) as part of the program "Strengthening  of the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Mechanisms in the Republic of Moldova." This program received co-financing from the European Union, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the UK Government, and was implemented by the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

On the first day of the training, investigative journalist Victor Cozmei, who has been a part of the HotNews.ro news portal team for 14 years, spoke to and demonstrated to his colleagues from the Republic of Moldova how to integrate information obtained from their investigative work into multimedia content effectively. The most straightforward and practical method he shared was the use of interactive maps.

Cozmei stressed that the impact of an article with multimedia content extends beyond easier readability and information absorption; it also keeps readers engaged on the site for nearly two additional minutes. He further emphasized that the use of maps or other graphical elements should be judicious and reserved for situations where they are truly necessary.

"Multimedia content can become confusing if not executed properly or if it becomes too cluttered. It's imperative that we evaluate whether it is genuinely warranted. Is it essential to convey our message? We need to ask ourselves if it is reader-friendly, easy to load, and easy to navigate. Only if we receive affirmative answers at each stage should we invest the time and effort to prepare such a data presentation," Victor Cozmei advised.

Following each stage of the presentation, the journalists applied what they had learned. By the end of the day, they successfully created an interactive map that incorporated a substantial volume of data.

The second day of training was dedicated to identifying topics for investigation. As the well-known Romanian investigative journalist Adrian Mogoș, who is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Reporters (ICIJ), the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism, and a freelance journalist at newsromania.net, explained, these topics can emerge from a simple conversation with an official.

Mogoș emphasized that an investigative journalist not only needs the ability to gather various pieces of information but also must develop a method to manage documents and information effectively.

"Each journalist must find their own method for managing the information they acquire. This approach enables them to identify necessary information swiftly, knowing precisely what to search for and where. Investigative journalism assumes that sources may not always be trustworthy, which is why journalists must question everything and verify any information they obtain. Errors in an article can expose the reporter to sanctions and can damage their credibility," emphasized Mogoș.

During the training, Mogoș shared a personal story about how he purchased a fake identity document, deceived European officials, and managed to participate in an election. He also highlighted the importance of teamwork, fairness, and building relationships with decision-makers at the state level.

The training aimed to achieve three fundamental goals:

1. Enhancing the quality of investigations and reporting on corruption cases by strengthening the capacities of investigative journalists at the national and local levels, providing them with international networks and expertise.

2. Creating investigative articles on corruption cases in specific high-risk sectors, such as education, public health, social assistance, and agri-food, which are of national and local interest.

3. Raising public awareness to prevent corruption among citizens and increase media coverage of corruption cases.

The participants actively engaged at every stage and acquired all the tools to create a journalistic investigation that is not only comprehensive but also visually effective for the reader.

“At this master class on Investigative Journalism, we learned how to determine geographic coordinates, create interactive maps, and apply them in our work. We delved into the structure, content, and the process of selecting a subject for investigative material. We also learned the intricacies of working undercover. In discussions with trainers Victor Cozmei and Adrian Mogoș, we analyzed the challenges faced by investigative journalists and, most importantly, received valuable tips for conducting high-quality investigations. We express our gratitude to CIJM for initiating this School for journalists," stated Ludmila Podgurschii, a journalist from Edit Media in Ocnița city.

Investigative journalism often uncovers the wrongdoings of dignitaries and can have a profound impact on dismantling corruption schemes. Understanding how to create (interactive) maps to better visualize the involvement of key figures in an investigation is essential. Additionally, organizing a personal database is crucial," expressed Traian Cibotari, a journalist from TV Nord.

“Given that presenting complex information usually involves a substantial volume of data, often in numerical form, I plan to utilize the new techniques I've gathered here to convey accumulated data as effectively and representatively as possible. Once implemented, these techniques will facilitate the reader's efficient reception of information," said Elena Celak, a journalist at the nokta.md news portal.

We would like to clarify that the Network of Investigative Journalists comprises 36 journalists from all regions of the country.

Tatiana Gherța

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