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Mongolia Holds Pioneering IJ Conference

Inspired by colleagues abroad and challenges at home, Mongolia’s ambitious journalism community held its first international investigative reporting conference on September 1-2. The event drew over 100 attendees from 10 countries, including trainers from Germany, Japan and the United States.

Munkhmandakh Myagmar of the Press Institute of Mongolia, plugging local journalists into the global network. Credit: Byamba, PIM.

Called “Investigative Journalism Dialogue,” the conference was organized by the Press Institute of Mongolia, a GIJN member, with Germany’s Deutsche Welle Akademie and local broadcaster Mongol TV. The event recognized the enterprising work being done by Mongolian journalists while launching Central Asia’s first nonprofit investigative newsroom, the Mongolian Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Mongolia’s muckrakers have plenty to do. Bordered by China and Russia, their Texas-sized country of just three million people is known for its sweeping expanses, nomadic culture and vast resources. In 1990, Mongolia shed its 70-year-old Soviet-style single-party system for a parliamentary democracy.

Landlocked Mongolia lies wedged between China and Russia. Credit: Wikipedia.

But with a multinational race to develop the nation’s resources, corruption is rife, with the country ranking 87th on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index (below Albania and tied with Panama). This leaves plenty of stories for Mongolia’s growing pool of investigative journalists.

The “Investigative Journalism Dialogue” grew out of roundtable discussions organized by Mongolian journalists who attended the 9th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Lillehammer, Norway. Those meetings sparked stories by 19 media outlets in the country and established a network of journalism educators and journalists keen to expand investigative reporting in the country.

Over 100 journalists attended what was a groundbreaking conference for Central Asia. Credit: Ganaa, PIM.

This month’s conference, held in the capital Ulaanbaatar, featured presentations from veteran trainers Mark Lee Hunter of Story-Based Inquiry and Berlin-based Marcus Lindemann. Also speaking were Deutsche Welle Akademie’s Eva Mehl; Hideaki Kimura, managing editor of Japan’s Waseda Chronicle; Yong Jin Kim, chief editor of Korea’s Newstapa investigative nonprofit; Thomson Reuters journalist Terrence Edwards; Press Institute of Mongolia trainers; and local journalists and representatives of civil society organizations.

Highlights included a panel hosted by Mongol TV’s Lkhavga Erdene on techniques of criminal investigation, featuring top officials of Mongolian law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies. The conference also announced winners of an investigative journalism award, run by the Press Institute and Deutsche Welle Akademie. The winning project, “Silent Screams,” exposed allegations of child abuse from teachers of deaf and hearing-impaired high school students and corruption within the Ministry of Education working group set up to investigate the abuse.

The conference also marked the launch of a nonprofit Mongolian Centre for Investigative Journalism, the first of its kind in Central Asia. The Centre will provide local journalists the opportunity to collaborate and lead on issues related to corruption, extractive industries, the environment and human rights, according to its founders. And they will be looking for international partners. Want to get in touch? You can write them here.

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