The ARIJ (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism) annual forum is the Arab world’s biggest gathering for investigative journalists and supporters of independent media. The 2020 Forum was held under the theme: “Connecting the World”.
The year 2020 has been phenomenal in all senses of the word. For the first time in so long, one big story has consistently been the focus of all news and investigative outlets around the world. Investigative journalists were and are still expected to be there; watching, reporting, editing, recording, and blowing the whistle on injustice and state failures. In situations like this coronavirus calamity, investigative journalists were the first responders of justice — and history. Failing to do so could’ve had global consequences, so damaging that we might as well stop calling ourselves journalists. In this context, our theme “Connecting the World”, was born.
ARIJ 2020 Forum was our 1st fully virtual Forum. With so many of us being asked to work from home and remain at home during non-work hours, we knew this was not an easy decision. However, as investigative journalists, seeing that the sky’s the limit was part of our DNA.
The ARIJ Forum is a chance to network and share knowledge with leaders of Arab and global investigative journalism movements; and is an annual event to boost reporting skills, learn new tools, and get acquainted with the latest trends in investigative reporting. There are also opportunities to network with TV broadcasters, technology companies, and universities from around the globe. Journalists will learn how to counter the legal, political, professional, economic, and societal challenges hindering the role of the “Fourth Estate” in ensuring accountability. ARIJ’s Forum is a golden opportunity to train and equip journalists to serve as society’s watchdogs in favour of democracy, transparency and the rule of law in one of the world’s most autocratic regions. It also gives Arab media lecturers and media students a chance to interact with professionals.
The 2020 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows that the coming decade will be decisive for the future of journalism, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting and amplifying the many crises that threaten the right to freely report on independent, diverse and reliable information.
The index suggested that the next 10 years will be pivotal for press freedom because of converging crises affecting the future of journalism: a geopolitical crisis (due to the aggressiveness of authoritarian regimes); a technological crisis (due to a lack of democratic guarantees); a democratic crisis (due to polarisation and repressive policies); a crisis of trust (due to suspicion and even hatred of the media); and an economic crisis (impoverishing quality journalism).