On November 26, ARIJ hosted a three-hour digital roundtable (translated live from Arabic to English and vice versa) with media commissioners from various regional and international outlets including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, DW, Liberation, OCCRP, Mediabridge and Pulitzer at ARIJ’s 13th Annual Forum. Twelve Arab journalists had the chance to pitch their proposals for 2021 production, and commissioners scrutinised, challenged and advised journalists on how to improve and develop their story ideas. We’ve compiled some of the best advice:
1. You should be able to tell your story in one sentence: What do you want to prove and do you have the documentation needed to do that?
2. Think about what’s new and unique in your story. That’s your selling point.
3. You need to distinguish between what is publicly available and what is exclusively yours.
4. Take your time when pitching your main idea and state what is still missing and what still needs researching.
5. Establish what evidence you have of wrongdoing.
6. Think about the kind of questions commissioners will ask you in advance.
7. Don’t assume that the person you are pitching to understands the story’s context. Make sure you clarify the context in one sentence.
8. Get stories from countries or areas that international commissioners cannot reach. Commissioners are interested in the uniqueness of your story.
9. Have a clear idea of how you’re planning to implement and deliver your story, and why you’re choosing that format over others.
10. Consider the publishers you’re pitching to, and why they would be interested in your story.
Commissioners: Christopher Mitchell (BBC Arabic), Simon Cox (BBC Arabic), Mustafa Khalili (BBC Arabic), Rana Sabbagh (OCCRP), Boyoung Lim (Pulitzer), Henrik Grunnet (IMS-Mediabridge), Phil Rees (Al-Jazeera), Mohamed El Ali (Al-Jazeera), Diarmuid Jeffreys (Al-Jazeera), Abdelmoneim Mahmoud (Al Araby TV), Munir Al-Khatib (ARIJ), Hoda Osman (ARIJ), Bissane El Cheikh (ARIJ), Hala Kodmani (Liberation), Ahmed Soliman (DW) and Ahmed Ragab (DW).