The Investigative Journal Launches in London With Aim to “Bring the Truth” to the World
The Investigative Journal held its official launch in London this month. The group of international journalists, former political prisoners, and icons for truth, will focus on issues of health, the environment, terrorism and press freedom and more of the most pressing issues of our time.
Mohamed Fahmy, CEO of The Investigative Journal, delivered the opening remarks and noted that TIJ’s board of advisors is dubbed the “board of prisoners” because of their past. Five of them have been incarcerated, harassed and kidnapped, Fahmy said. Despite this, “they continue their mission to try to bring the truth” to the world.
Some of these members include Lindsey Snell who was kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front in Syria and survived, Martin Karl Schibbye, a Swedish journalist who was jailed for 438 days in Ethiopia, Africa, for a crime he didn’t commit; Fahmy similarly was jailed in Egypt for fabricated terrorism charges when he was the Editor in chief of Al Jazeera.
TIJ’s international legal team is led by renowned international lawyer Amal Clooney.
Panelists included Taha Siddiqui, an award-winning Pakistani journalist and founder of SAFEnewsrooms.org now living in exile in Paris after surviving an abduction; Kerim Balci, the former editor-in-chief of Turkish Review and Chief Communications Officer of London Advocacy Group now living in exile in the UK; and Sarah Clarke, the head of Europe and Central Asia for Article 19, an international organization defending freedom of expression and information.
Yalda Hakim documentary filmmaker, and BBC World News presenter and correspondent moderated the official launch event.
“It’s surprising,” Fahmy said. “We are much stronger than we think we are” when placed in the most difficult situations, referring to his own time in solitary confinement.
TIJ also announced that it has partnered with Rappler in the Philippines.
Tamara Pearl, sister of the late Daniel Pearl, addressed the audience by video. Daniel Peal was kidnapped by a terrorist group in Pakistan in 2002 which then sold him to Al Qaeda at the hands of which he reached his early demise. “Exposing injustice is crucial for human rights,” she said. “But exposing human rights is dangerous.”
Maria Ressa, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Rappler, who delivered the keynote address, read from a speech she wrote titled, “Creating the Future Together.”
“This is not just an existential moment for journalists but it is also an existential moment for all democracies around the world,” Ressa said. She noted that collectively, we are living in unprecedented times and that you’re “damned If you do and damned if you don’t. Where crisis is opportunity and fear can either save your life or doom your future.”
“It is both a course and a privilege to be a senior journalist in my country today,” she said of her homeland, the Philippines. However, she noted that at this critical juncture of our world’s history, every decision each journalist makes will help determine the world’s future. “without facts, we don’t have truth. Without truth, we have no trust. Journalists are the gatekeepers of facts,” Rissa said. “Here we are in our generation, trying to fight for the facts. That is the battle of our generation.”
She praised Fahmy for his dedication to bringing the truth to the masses through The Investigative Journal. She ended her remarks by noting that “investigative journalism is needed more than ever.” She said, “It’s a brazen world” and as journalists, “We investigate. We expose. And then, we rebuild.”
The topics addressed how social media has been weaponized in dictatorships like Turkey and Pakistan, the role of governance in civil society and in protecting journalists, and the battle for the truth and how to create lasting change for the future.
Siddiqui said in Pakistan today about 80 percent of journalists self-censor out of fear of losing their lives. He noted that the editor of Dawn.com – the leading and biggest newspaper in Pakistan – said, “earlier they were trying to kill journalists and now they’re trying to kill journalism.”
2018 was the worst year on record for journalists.
Balci noted that in Turkey 1,954 press cards have been canceled in the last three years. He noted that press cards are only given by government organs. “I never applied for that because I believe a press card that is given by a government organ is not a press card. It has to be given by an independent organization, which we lack in my country.”
Clarke said that “In Europe and Central Asia, which is the region I focus on, the targeted attacks on journalists, especially who are reporting on high levels of corruption in governments and in organized crime…are higher than ever because the institutions that protect them, have been hollowed out.”
Fahmy recalling his own experience told the audience, “You worry, in that cell, that you are just going to become another statistic. He also noted that it is “important that countries use sanctions as one tool” to push back against countries who continue to imprison journalists, human rights activists, and others. “As a journalist, the thin line between journalism and activism can get you in trouble sometimes,” Fahmy said.
TIJ is about to begin filming in New York an interview show that will bring experts on topics the publication has written about and issues that are dominant on the news. Fahmy noted that TIJ will “take it a step further.”