African Academy for Open Source Investigation Call for Applications:
Hidden networks of puppet-masters can create inflammatory, socially divisive, and misleading content which could spark conflict between citizens and undermine public trust in governments. This type of information manipulation doesn’t have regard for national borders.
Disinformation and propaganda campaigns are used by nefarious actors for many reasons, including to subvert local policies, influence governments, and/or undermine critics. Having the right tools and resources to protect local information environments from the harmful effects of these activities is essential.
The initiative will empower investigative media and watchdog NGOs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. The project is spearheaded by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), with in-country forensic analysts and trainers from Code for Africa’s (CfA) CivicSignal AI/machine-learning team, iLAB forensic research team, and PesaCheck fact-checking team, besides the technical support from the Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute (CSRI) in the U.K. The initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of State.
About the programme
The initiative aims to build the capacity of local expert analysts in the four target countries to proactively spot and address problematic behavior in the information space.
We will do this by offering up to 80 fellowships for journalists and think tank researchers with intensive hands-on virtual training and project-based mentorship. The training will include how to use advanced social listening and media monitoring tools to detect questionable content, plus how to use network analysis and data analysis tools to guide data-driven investigative reporting. Other skills will include how to draft compelling, data-based reports; expose information manipulation; and build strong audience engagement around the reports. All participants will also receive digital security training and tools to promote strong digital hygiene practices.
Our goals for this programme are:
- Equip investigative media and watchdog NGOs with open-source intelligence (OSINT) skills and tools to turbocharge their investigations related to manipulative actions in the information space.
- Help newsrooms and watchdog NGOs reach larger audiences and build deeper engagement with the public for data-driven discussions on key issues of concern.
- Build a strong pan-African network of OSINT investigators who can collaborate with each other on transnational investigations, and collaborate with peers elsewhere in the world to unmask influence operations and information manipulation.
- Journalists must have a minimum of one year experience in fact-checking journalism (evidence will be requested)
- Journalists must be based in one of the following countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Senegal and available for in-person (if needed) and virtual programme activities.
- Journalists must have evidence of reports produced and published, with the latest not more than two months ago.
- Journalists must be attached or affiliated to a media house or digital news outlet where content produced during the programme will be published. This also applies to freelance journalists.
- Journalists must be willing to produce a reference letter from their newsroom stating that content produced will be published on the organisation’s website, and shared on its social media platforms.
- Journalists must commit to fully participating in every component of the programme and commit to meeting assigned programme targets. The programme expects journalists to commit to dedicating at least 5 hours a week to its activities.
- Journalists must be fluent and commit to publishing content in at least one of these three languages: Swahili, French and/or English.
- Journalists will be required to join a Slack channel and a WhatsApp group.
- Journalists must commit to following up on published content, and tracking and reporting responses of key stakeholders, particularly the government, to published reports.
- Each journalist must produce at least two ‘real world’ stories/fact-checks outside of the classes, using the new skills/techniques for broadcast/publication.
- Journalists must pledge to share the new skills/techniques and resources that they acquire through the program with colleagues in participant’s wider newsroom, with evidence of skill-share sessions and team/joint projects demonstrating the new approach
The deadline to apply is 17 September 2021, at midnight WAT.