Strengthened IJ ecosystem accelerating political and social institutional & individual accountability and human rights, and play the necessary “watchdog” role in the Arab World in the midst of mis/dis-information.
Strengthening a cadre of Arab investigative journalists and fact checkers capable of producing published/broadcasted IJ content that meet international IJ standards for verification, ethics, quality and format.
Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) provides journalists in the MENA region with a supportive, connected and collaborative ecosystem that empowers, enlightens and provides reporters with state-of-the art training, coaching and networking. Founded in 2005, ARIJ has helped journalists adapt to changing technology, audience engagement, in a constantly shifting political journalism landscape – in a challenging environment of press freedom and access to information. ARIJ has also expanded to incubate a community of Arab fact checkers and the tools to support the protection of whistleblowers in the region.
Key to journalism’s resilience and growth amidst all these adversities and challenges is “the community of Arab Investigative Journalists” — ARIJ’s most distinctive feature. We reach out not only for new journalists and audiences each year through our training and collaborative investigative projects; but we also connect them with our growing community of “ARIJeans” — the alumni of our training programs, the editors, the trainers, the mentors, the fact checkers, the lawyers and the investigative reporters who exchange strategies, tips, and resources. The members of ARIJ’s community provide support, networking opportunities, and strive to help protect journalists working in difficult conditions. In an era of unprecedented challenges to press freedom, the journalists’ physical, digital, career, legal and mental wellbeing are often at stake, ARIJ’s community provides a vital lifeline, extending them some of the essential means of getting information out, while keeping them safe.
ARIJ’s community survival depends on the continued investment to meet MENA region’s unique challenge of speaking truth to power. ARIJ’s old and new partners and supporters help strengthen this critically important information accountability.
Traditionally, journalism in the Arabic speaking region has struggled to convey the message in a less than favorable ecosystem that suffered from lack of transparency, repressive laws, and unaccountable organs of the states, leading to a compliant, self censoring and cautious media landscape, that often lacked expertise and professionalism, resulting in a weaker and ineffective media environment.
Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 Index identifies the MENA region as one that has gone from bad to worse, with growing authoritarianism, protest movements, and conflicts, presenting unique challenges and threats to journalists’ physical safety and ability to fulfill their mission of informing the public. The job of journalist and/or fact checker is challenging and dangerous, often impacting content everywhere. Access to information remains elusive to independent and investigative journalists, with obstruction, intimidation and threats rife among those practicing within, and external to, the compliant organs of the media. Many of ARIJ’s partner journalists have faced surveillance, incarceration, threat of imprisonment or simply had to flee their countries.
As a result, free, independent, critical and accountable media content production has been shrinking, challenged by politicians, editors, fake news, in addition to all, old and emerging physical and digital surveillance.
Despite facing numerous smear campaigns, ARIJ has survived and persevered in its efforts to join with other journalism groups globally to share whistleblowers’ leaks, unraveling arrays of criminal businesses and exposing what authorities often wanted to hide.
ARIJ, through a program of training, mentoring and support, has been consolidating, expanding and nurturing investigative journalism and fact checking and those who practice it, to ensure its sustainability.
More than 4,500 journalists, fact checkers, editors, media professors and students in at least 16 Arab countries have been trained since ARIJ’s work was launched. More than 750 investigations have been supported, coached and funded in addition to providing pre-publication fact checking and legal screening. ARIJ online training courses through ‘ARIJ Academy’ (an online self-paced safe platform) reach to 10,000 trainees each year in all its forms of online, offline and hybrid trainings.
More than 150 of those trained journalists have worked with ARIJ on more than two investigations and some have completed 10 in the past decade. Covering a range of topics including local community issues, cross-border smuggling, corruption, health, the environment, climate change, migration, women’s rights, and human rights. These investigations — many critically-acclaimed and award-winning — have been published by leading newspapers (The Washington Post, Libération), independent platforms, and regional and international broadcasters including NBC, BBC, France24, Al Jazeera, and others.
These journalists, fact checkers and trainees form the heart and soul of ARIJ, and its community. In a region where journalistic achievements has been tough to come by, and in a global media ecosystem challenged by dramatically disrupted business models and an ever-narrowing space for civil society, the support, guidance, and validation ARIJ’s journalists provide one another are vital to the sustainability and growth of the journalistic craft. But sustaining and building on this momentum requires ARIJ to redouble efforts – to provide more and more comprehensive training and support to the growing corps of reporters chronicling the seismic shifts transforming our region and our world.
By providing basic, specialist and advanced training as well as supporting journalists in multiple investigations, ARIJ helps reporters develop throughout their careers. It is ARIJ’s belief that sustainability is achieved not only by providing reporters with basic skills training; but also through working with them over a period of many years to help them gain experience and hone their skills, with the aim of establishing a lasting culture of IJ in the region.
ARIJ’s training starts at university where ARIJ specially tailored courses and teaching support materials, provide a high standard of IJ education to students. Educators from across the region have been offered training to enable them to utilize the curriculum that is currently used in more than 75 educational institutions across the Arab World.
Established in 2020, ARIJ Academy has become a safe e-learning platform able to host all virtual, live, and recorded workshops and webinars. ARIJ has established also a MENA Data Research Unit to support “follow the money and corruption” investigations, providing open-source data through ‘ARIJ-Aleph’ in collaboration with OCCRP.
To confront the growing threat of misinformation/disinformation in the MENA region and throughout the world, ARIJ has launched the Arab Fact Checkers Network (AFCN) in 2020, to support fact checkers community and provide resources and support for work to authenticate information and data, including innovative tools in Arabic language; and in 2021, the first Arabic language whistleblower platform has been launched, followed in 2022 by steps to develop ARIJ’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, in the hope to introduce a clear code of ethics and a democratic framework that ought to govern the dissemination of future AI products and services in the region.
ARIJ is the leading cross-border, collaborative network in the region and beyond providing unprecedented networking opportunities for its community, with a large network of media professionals, IJ practitioners, IJ organizations, universities and international and regional media organizations. ARIJ was part of all ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalism) cross-border projects including the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, FinCEN, and the Pandora Papers.
ARIJ relies on a core of international development agencies, independent foundations and governmental grants and funds to support its diverse activities to promote Independent Journalism across the Middle East. ARIJ seeks partners who can help realize its potentials and translate its various activities into service that leave lasting impact in the face of the many adversities facing the region and its people. In short, our region has never needed ARIJ more – and we, in turn, are always in need of partners like you.
ARIJ Director General
More on ARIJ