Editor’s note: This webinar has now taken place. You can see the recording on GIJN’s YouTube channel.
Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world, from failing democracies to despotic regimes. Global freedom, already at a 14-year low, is reaching new depths as governments use the pandemic as a cover to further restrict human rights and free expression. Journalists are on the front lines of this backlash, dealing not only with growing hatred but with a sustained attack on the very idea of verifiable facts. What is the role of a watchdog press when democracy and rule of law are slipping away?
In this global GIJN webinar Investigating Autocracy: Strategies and Tips, we bring together four extraordinary journalists from Russia, Egypt, South Africa, and the Philippines — all of whom championed independent media when democracy in their countries fell under siege. They have reflected on the role of watchdog journalism in a climate of authoritarianism and will share strategies for staying effective and true to our profession’s highest standards.
- Lina Attalah (@linaattalah) is co-founder and chief editor of Mada Masr, a Cairo-based news website that is one of the last remaining voices of independent media in Egypt today. Before that, Attalah wrote for Reuters, Cairo Times and the Daily Star, among others, and also for Egypt Independent, which was shut down by the government. She was named one of the most influential people of 2020 by Time Magazine.
- Nic Dawes (@nicdawes) cut his teeth as an investigative and political reporter in South Africa and went on to become editor-in-chief at the Mail & Guardian and chief content and editorial officer at the Hindustan Times. Until recently the deputy executive director of Human Rights Watch, he serves on the boards of Coda Story, amaBhungane, and the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism.
- Masha Gessen (@mashagessen) is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of 12 books, including Surviving Autocracy and the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Shortly after the 2016 U.S. elections, Gessen wrote an influential article, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” in the New York Review of Books. She teaches at Bard College in New York.
The session will be moderated by Sheila Coronel, professor of journalism and director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York. During the era of Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, she co-founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and served as its executive director.