Motunrayo Alaka, Coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), has become one of the seven individuals selected into the 2019-20 class of the prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University in California, United States.
The JSK fellows who were selected from Africa, Europe and South America, comprise of journalists from Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Poland, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. They will be joined by other members from the US, who will be named on May 1, 2019.
According to an official statement it released, JSK described the fellows as people “in the vanguard of transforming journalism.”
“They are leading collaborations to share investigative resources, stories and training; reshaping storytelling in organizations large and small; and championing press freedom in the midst of government attacks on the media,” it added.
Likewise, the Director of the JSK Fellowships, Dawn Garcia, said, “We are fortunate to have this group of terrific international journalists join the JSK community,” adding that “They are bringing their tremendous drive and passion for journalism to Stanford University, which will welcome and celebrate their diverse perspectives and experiences.
“We are eager to have them make use of the vast resources available at one of the world’s top universities, and we look forward to seeing their ideas thrive. We can’t wait to learn from them and their families,” the director concluded.
The 2019-20 fellows will begin their class in September, and will spend 10 months at Stanford working on projects that address some of the most urgent issues in journalism while also strengthening their leadership skills.
With more than 1,000 fellows from over 80 countries since it was founded in 1966, the JSK fellowship enable fellows to test ideas and perform experiments aligned with its primary objectives: challenging misinformation and disinformation; holding the powerful accountable; strengthening local news; and fighting bias, intolerance and injustice.
An excited Alaka in an interview with SaharaReporters, said: “The John S. Knight Fellowship is one of the oldest and most prestigious fellowships in the world. The fact that it is hosted by the equally prestigious Stanford University is an additional advantage.
“I am so glad that I get to put Nigeria on the map as I join the league of some of the most respected change-makers in the world. This is without a doubt one of the most significant milestones of my career. I am enthusiastically looking forward to meeting and working with other JSK fellows from all over the world. I am excited about what this portends for the significant work that the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism does to ensure truly open democracies in Nigeria and beyond.”
Alaka’s WSCIJ is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation whose social justice programmes have been aimed at exposing corruption, regulatory failures and human rights abuses with the tool of investigative journalism. Since 2005, it has been organising Nigeria’s most prestigious investigative reporting award, the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting (WSAIR).
The six other non-US fellows are Omri Assenheim, investigative journalist and author, Uvda, Tel Aviv, Israel; Divine Dube, editor-in-chief, The Citizen Bulletin, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Anna Gielewska, journalist, Wprost, and Vice President, Reporters Foundation, Warsaw, Poland Lyle and Corrine Nelson International Fellow.
Others are Alastair Leithead, Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya, BBC, United Kingdom; Natália Mazotte, Executive Director, Open Knowledge Foundation, São Paulo, Brazil Knight Latin American Fellow; and Joseph Poliszuk, Editor and Co-founder, Armando.info, Caracas, Venezuela.