Investigative reporting in Arab world makes a difference

With support from Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), several investigations have been carried out in countries across the Arab world which have improved conditions for weaker population groups. New figures show that ARIJ strengthened its position in 2012 as an important regional driver in the call for government accountability through investigative journalism in the Middle East and North Africa

In largely volatile and repressive environments, 14 investigative reports by individual journalists were produced with ARIJ support from Syria, the Gaza strip, Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan. ARIJ also successfully launched four in-house investigative units in both broadcast and print media in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan from which 24 reports materialised in the course of 2012, according to the organisation’s annual report figures.

Many of the investigations have made an important impact on the communities in which they were carried out. One story, an award-winning cooperation between BBC and Al Balad Radio in Jordan led to the closing of care centers, the prosecution of staff and the establishment of a government investigative commission after horrendous physical abuse of disabled at care centers in Jordan was uncovered.

Following another investigation, the Ministry of Health in Tunis tightened its system of monitoring hygiene at a local hospital after an ARIJ investigation showed how resistant germs were spreading at hospitals, To avoid to have to pay compensation, doctors withheld this information from patients who caught the germs while staying at these hospitals, violating their basic rights.

The Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip decided to pull back a vaccine used to promote the growth of lungs of neo-natal infants after ARIJ’s investigation highlighted the suffering of poor parents whose children were born before the nine month period was up. Read the story here.

Charismatic executive director

Rana Sabbagh, ARIJ Executive Director
Rana Sabbagh, ARIJ Executive Director. Photo: IMS

The success of the organisation co-founded by IMS can be partly attributed to the strong leadership of Rana Sabbagh, the Executive Director of ARIJ. Few journalists have achieved such an outstanding and diversified career as Rana Sabbagh. As one of the founders of the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghalad, correspondent in several countries and former editor-in-chief of Jordan Times, she is an experienced and skilled journalist and now heads ARIJ.

In a previous interview with IMS, she said:

“Investigative journalism is the cream of the cream of journalism because it is uncovering facts. No matter how ugly they are, you can’t shoot down the facts if they are well-documented. It’s very important in our part of the world because most of the Arab press is based on opinion. A change is necessary if journalism is to play a vital role in society.”

This may be true more so now that ever before with the changes that have come about in the Arab world since spring 2011.

Felicitations to Rana Sabbagh on her 50th birthday on 1 May.