New Narratives launches Excellence in Extractives Reporting Project in Liberia and Sierra Leone

Former Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) Konah Karmo speaks to New Narratives fellows during an Excellence in Extractives Reporting Project workshop at iCampus in Monrovia on September 20, 2019.

New Narratives kicked off an 18-month project this month reporting on the extractives sectors in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The project, supported by German Development Cooperation, will allow ten of the top journalists in each country to learn about and report on developments in these sectors which are crucial to the economies of both countries.

In Liberia the new project marks phase two of a project run in 2017-2018 with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and German Development Cooperation support. Reporters in the earlier project exposed widespread drug use and prostitution in artisanal mining areas, misuse and lack of transparency of County Development funds, broken environmental and labor laws by China Union among other stories.

New Narratives fellows engage with a presenter during an Excellence in Extractives Reporting Project workshop at iCampus in Monrovia on September 19, 2019.

In Sierra Leone, New Narratives has partnered with the Media Information Bureau to introduce journalists to extractives reporting and to join Liberian journalists in cross-border reporting on issues shared between the two countries.

Effective oversight of the extractives sectors in Sierra Leone and Liberia is crucial to ensuring that benefits reach citizens. If managed effectively, Liberia and Sierra Leone’s natural resources have the potential to significantly boost the development prospects of the two nations still recovering from decades of corruption and conflict. Media is in a unique and central position to provide this oversight.

The New Narratives project began with a workshop with ten journalists, selected in a competitive process, from 8 leading Liberian media houses. The media houses represented are in five counties. Journalists will now have the opportunity to apply for grants to report in-depth investigations on the extractives industry and to conduct radio and television panels with impacted communities, transparency activists, government and county officials and companies.

In Sierra Leone, MIB is currently recruiting journalists and will launch the project with a workshop this month.