As we look ahead to the International Anti-Corruption Day, marked annually on December 9, more than 100 Armenian media professionals and students will hear about cutting-edge technology for investigative reporting to help expose and combat corruption thanks to a three-day media conference in Yerevan with 16 respected experts from around the globe.
Organized by the Media Initiative Center, with support from USAID and the Embassy of Lithuania in Armenia, the conference, which runs from December 6 to 8, promotes investigative journalism in Armenia by offering a collaborative platform for discussions, presentations and workshops, with the participation of visiting international experts who will share their diverse experiences covering corruption and human rights. Participants will talk about current trends, platforms and tools for investigative journalism to fight corruption. They will explore opportunities for cross-border collaboration in investigating corruption that increasingly spreads from one nation to another and must be fought by allies in various countries.
Welcoming participants to the “Tvapatum Investigation: Media Against Corruption” conference, Nouneh Sarkissian, managing director of the Media Initiatives Center, noted that investigative journalism upheld the integrity of the journalistic field while doing the most difficult work. “Disclosure is eventually one of the most important functions of journalism. What challenges do investigative journalism centers and individuals face today in different countries, systems and cultures? How do they counter the evils of the modern world, including corruption? This is what our conference is about,” she said.
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr., who joined his Lithuanian counterpart, Ambassador Erikas Petrikas, at the opening of the conference echoed the importance – and difficulties – of investigative journalism. “With heartfelt sincerity, I salute the brave journalists – those here in Armenia, those in the United States, in Lithuania, around the world – who are not afraid to go above and beyond to shine a spotlight into the dark corners where corruption thrives. Often these journalists face difficulties, challenges, even outright threats. But they continue to investigate, to burrow, and to report, knowing the importance of their work.” Ambassador Mills further remarked that “independent, free and unbiased media coverage is critical if we want to curb corruption. News outlets should be free to report the news without fitting into an official narrative, free to interview experts irrespective of political leaning, free to receive advertising dollars based on business decisions, not political pressure.”
Thanks to the support of the Embassy of Lithuania in Armenia and USAID, the conference features a wide range of foreign experts, including four highly-respected members of the Lithuanian media, two U.S. experts, and journalists and academics from countries ranging from Georgia and Ukraine to the United Kingdom and Germany.
Lithuanian Ambassador Petrikas emphasized the role of media and society in the fight against corruption “which our countries inherited from the former Soviet Union.” “We are very pleased that a group of prominent Lithuanian journalists can participate in the conference and will share their practice and lessons learned with the local media community,” he said.
Invited speakers represent a number of internationally noteworthy media and investigative centers, including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project; the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; Internews Network; the School of Communication of the American University in Washington; European Humanities University (Lithuania); Open Oil UG project (Germany); Barron’s Weekly of Dow Jones & Company; “Так-так-так” Social Advocacy Network (Russia); Veidas Magazine (Lithuania); Cumhuriyet Daily (Turkey); Monitori.ge (Georgia); 15min.lt (Lithuania); and Hetq.am (Armenia).
The conference is part of the Tvapatum (Digital Storytelling) series of media events organized by the Media Initiatives Center and Internews, within the frames of the USAID-funded Media for Informed Civic Engagement Project.
The work of the conference will be covered on Facebook and Twitter via the hashtag #Tvapatum16. More information about the event, including the agenda and the list of guest speakers, is available on http://conference.tvapatum.mediainitiatives.am/.