By Wynona Latham - A fresh eye on the story, an in-depth understanding of the issue and innovative storytelling techniques – these are some of the best practices identified by 10 IWMF 2012 HIV/AIDS Investigative Journalism Fellows inSouth Africa.
The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) Fellows completed their fellowship by presenting their work to their colleagues, mentors, programme speakers and guests. The presentations preceded a discussion on how to increase innovative coverage of HIV/AIDS.
The event marked the end of the fellowship during which the 10 fellows attended a series of investigative reporting workshops, presentations and knowledge-building sessions. Each fellow was mentored by a skilled investigative journalist who assisted them in producing three to four investigative reports.
The IWMF also selected four returning 2011 fellows to support the programme while continuing their investigations.
Keynote speakerMia Malan, Health Editor of the Mail and Guardian, outlined the challenges journalists needed to overcome in order to tell the HIV story effectively.
“No HIV story deserves to be in the media merely because it focuses on a devastating epidemic … it needs to be told in a compelling way.”
For this reason, reporters needed a range of skills including understanding science, policy and data.
“HIV is no longer the story but rather an issue that helps to frame the understanding of other broader issues,” said Malan.
“This is the second annual fellowship and it reinforces the value of sustained skills development combined with mentorship and creation of strong networks,” said frayintermedia managing director Paula Fray who oversees the fellowship implementation inSouth Africa.
IWMF Executive Director Elisa Lees Munoz said: “The IWMF’s methodology, providing long-term training coupled with institutional support and mentoring, provides an excellent platform for sustainable learning on any topic.”
It was noted that one of the problems encountered by the fellows was the lack of willingness of people to come forward as sources.
Harriet Mclea, a health reporter and former IWMF fellow said: “It’s about getting people to talk and having to press on to make those who don’t want to talk, talk. We also have to look hard for the people who are willing to talk.”
Other problems raised included that lack of support, the sexual politics involved in submitting an HIV and Aids story as well as the need to balance indepth reporting with a human interest angle.
The fellows include Mukelwa Hlatshwayo, 3rd degree eTV; Euline Fillis, SABC (Fokus); Tanja Bencun, SABC (SAfm); Bibi-Ayesha Wadvalla, SABC (Digital News); Ina Skosana, The New Age; Sipho Masombuka, The Times; Sibongile Mashaba, The Sowetan; Bianca Capazorio, Weekend Argus; Nomsa Zwane, Alex FM.