Motunrayo Alaka, Coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), is one of only seven individuals from Africa, Europe and South America selected into the 2019-20 class of the prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University in California, United States.
In its official announcement on Wednesday evening, 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 said.
The JSK class comprises journalists from Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Poland, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. They will be joined by the Us members of the class, who will be named on May 1.
“We are fortunate to have this group of terrific international journalists join the JSK community,” said Dawn Garcia, Director of the JSK Fellowships.
“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.”
Beginning in September, the JSK Class of 2019-2020 will spend 10 months at Stanford strengthening their leadership skills while working on projects that address some of the most urgent issues in journalism.
They and their spouses and partners will have the opportunity to sit in on Stanford classes and to access a diverse range of interdisciplinary experts and events at Stanford and across Silicon Valley.
The fellows will test ideas and perform experiments aligned with the primary objectives of the JSK Fellowships: challenging misinformation and disinformation; holding the powerful accountable; strengthening local news; and fighting bias, intolerance and injustice.
Expressing happiness at her emergence as a JSK fellow, Alaka told SaharaReporters: “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, based in Lagos, is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation with social justice programmes 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
More than 1,000 fellows from over 80 countries have been a part of the programme since it was founded in 1966.