Essentials of Investigative Journalism From Anas Aremeyaw Anas

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Anas Aremeyaw Anas is an award-winning undercover journalist from Ghana. I have been following his work on YouTube for a while now. Yesterday however, I had the pleasure to listen to him thanks to Joseph Warungu who invited him to the Top Story Season2 finale gala at the National Museum.

Anas’ kind of journalism he says seeks to name, shame and jail the bad guys. He believes that journalism has to have an impact in society.

Here are my top picks from his address, for all aspiring journalists and especially those who want to be investigative journalists.

  1. As an undercover journalist, my work is about results, it is about fostering development but the stakes are all high.
  2. Anonymity has always been my secret weapon. Those who know me will tell you that I name, shame and jail the bad guys. This is not conventional journalism. It is my own thinking of what journalism should be. I have always said that as African journalists as we grow up, as we pick up the mantle we do not need anyone to define what journalism is to us. The essence of journalism is about doing things that benefit our society.
  3. Before I call anybody a criminal I will give you hard core evidence put together with my hidden cameras. I’ll show you when you plotted to steal, how you stole and where you took that stolen item too. That’s the journalism I believe in.
  4. What I am telling you is not about practice, it is about what I have done and have seen results.
  5. If you look at the CPI index you see that the number of African great journalists who have fallen is alarming because we do not take care of our people well. By people I mean the bad guys. We do not ensure that we do it up to the end.
  6. I take journalism as a boxing ring, there could be split decisions sometimes, but usually one wins and sometimes we go by knockout. With my hard core evidence, I am able to tell stories like that.
  7. When you are in school it is a different ball game but when you get into society and you really want to impact on the lives of our grandmothers and sisters in society you got to think differently. Do not allow anybody to teach you how to sweep your own house. It is your house and perhaps you know the best broom to sweep it.
  8. I want to emphasize that as African journalists, if we do not dare to think differently, things are not going to be good for us. We are in a hurry to put fundamental structures in place. Your journalism is as important as it is today, we need it even though you are in school, and we need it if we want to save the continent.
  9. As we embark on this journey we should know that it comes with a lot of risk, our lives will be called into question, and society will call us to answer those questions that politicians cannot answer. But it will take me and you to have that strength and courage to push the frontiers of our democracy. The road is not going to be rosy, but we have to focus and when we do, the realities will come to play and we will be able to triumph.

  10. How many of us will be courageous enough to hold that hot iron and push those frontiers to ensure that we have proper democracies?
  11. One key thing about my kind of journalism is that it stands legal scrutiny because if you claim that you have filmed someone, your information is not sacrosanct, it ought to be subjected to proper legal scrutiny.
  12. Truth should be your cross. Truth should always be the fundamental thing you look at when you engage on those journeys. It’s what will set you free. Do not think that you can get away with lies in journalism because it will catch up with you very soon.

  13. One key thing that we should put in our minds as African journalists is that we have to redefine journalism according to our continent and the context within which we operate else we will lag behind. It is our continent, our problems are very different from those in the West. We are not there now, it is our time to sanitize our democracies too. We cannot sanitize that democracy by swallowing hook, line and sinker what has been cooked in Harvard or any other part of the world. We can only combat our problems by looking deep into our society.
  14. I charge all of you, as we live as journalists, we must always believe that being original in our thoughts is the best way of nibbing societal problems. The problems that engulf us, I have always called extreme diseases. And when we have extreme diseases we need extreme remedies to combat those diseases and I have always belonged to that extreme remedy.

It was a great honor to listen from the person whose work Barack Obama and Kofi Annan recognize.

I have been greatly challenged and I do hope every young journalist in Africa is.

Video Courtesy: Top Story Crew