It was 16 years ago, in 2000, when Oleg Khomenok from Ukraine came to Fojo in Kalmar fort the first time, then with a group of editors to study local newspapers. Two years later he passed Training of Trainers at Fojo. Soon SCOOP was launched and since 2013 Oleg has trained Russian reporters in investigative journalism under Scoop Russia in Kalmar.
“The most important role for a journalist is to tell the truth. That has not changed since the beginning of journalism. To inform about issues that might affect people, explain, show perspective and also entertain.”
Oleg Khomenok is back at Fojo in Kalmar, training journalists to teach colleagues about investigative journalism, this time a group of Russian journalists. Oleg is an investigative reporter from Ukraine and one of the founders of Yanukovych leaks. He has trained journalists for 20 years.
–It is like planting seeds; we teach here in FOJO eight people now and they then will train 20 people/year, the extension, multiplying. We have a lot of good results after the training we do here. We teach the next generation of journalists, the young who are eager to do investigative reporting.
–Real investigative journalism is when you publish something that someone don´t want to be published, Oleg underlines.
The users of journalism have changed their behavior. Before, people watched television. Now, people make breakfast at the same time as they listen to television.
And they want to have news live, to participate and comment, take part in the news flow.
–You have everything you need to produce news in a smartphone. Reporters are becoming the facts-checkers of news submitted and posted by users.
Russian government biggest obstacle
The participants in Scoop Russia are learning about investigative journalism. The most difficult part is how to approach those affected by the topic of investigation.
–They have weak skills to interview others than official sources. The regular investigative reporter finds something in open data, like questionable information about a luxury mansion; go there, take pictures with a drone and approach this person, that´s it. No questions to those affected by this. Investigative reporting will be more efficient in case reporters will show not only wrongdoing, but also people who suffered due to this wrongdoing.
Which are the obstacles then, facing journalists in Russia of today?
–Obstacles? The biggest obstacle for them is their government. Russia has really tough media environment, reporters have a lot of restrictions and limitations. And the problem with freedom of speech is a big issue. There are two major obstacles: legal limitations and physical security. Reporters might be beaten or threatened, causing self-censorship avoiding topics, especially in investigating reporting.
How do you get by the obstacles?
–The legal risks might be reduced. Every line and every statement must be verified,
fact checking and legal screening is really important. Physical protection; cooperation between reporters setting up rules and regulations to avoid these threats.
–Another issue is the digital security, we are living in a world that is online and can be
hacked. A reporter must have the skills to prevent this.
– Yes, it is getting tougher out there.
Oleg returns to the lecture hall to continue his legacy, strengthening young journalists so that they will endure the reality in creating investigative journalism. Also in Russia.