My return to South Africa is just weeks away, so it's time for one more post before I board that plane. I understand that absolutely everyone is as enthralled by South Africa's abandoned mines as I am, so that's where my work will pick up upon landing. That being said, new documents, databases and information promise to make this next batch of stories another exciting step.
Before jumping back into the world of abandoned mines, zama zamas and precious metals, though, I want to use this post as a home for a note on transparency.
When speaking about my work, I often get questions regarding my funding. Some of them relate to how I manage to stay afloat while freelancing, while others are thinly veiled attempts to figure out who must be "pulling the purse/marionette strings" on my work. For the sake of transparency, I have put together a list of groups providing funding and research assistance at the bottom of this post and have done the preliminary digging for anyone asking those questions.
I am honored to receive financial support from three sources: the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Society of Environmental Journalists' Fund for Environmental Journalism and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. These are three well-respected journalistic organizations, which provide assistance to reporters who cover under-reported topics. In today's world of publications' evaporating budgets, the need for expensive investigative and international work (let alone international-investigative work) has not decreased, and non-profits have stepped up to fill the funding void. I included the three organizations' websites as well as their most recently published 990s. A form filed with the IRS, a 990 is the most direct way to peer into a nonprofit's finances.
Additionally, I receive research assistance -- but no funding -- from several other groups. I work closely with the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry and the Wits City Institute -- two research groups at the University of the Witwatersrand -- so I included links to their websites and Wits' annual reports from the past decade. Finally, in the course of my work, I come across many NGOs, CBOs and other public-sector groups. I included the websites and nonprofit registration information from South Africa's Department of Social Development for two of them.
The worlds of freelance reporting, international reporting and investigative reporting often turn into ethics minefields: What information can parties share? What types of guarantees can be made to sources? What sort of assistance passes into the realm of 'in-kind'?. I work to remain constantly aware of these questions and hope that my own transparency prior to reporting is the first step.
I am proud of my editorial control. It is one of the -- if not the -- most important reasons I decided to continue working as a freelancer for the near future. With that out of the way, let's get back to work. As always, this website will be the home for my commentary and updates. Also, I will be checking in via Twitter (@MarkOlalde).
And finally, thanks for following along.
Funding provided by:
Fund for Investigative Journalism
form 990: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/520/895/2014-520895081-0bcb5cb3-9.pdf
Society of Environmental Journalists / Fund for Environmental Journalism
form 990: www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/520/194/2014-520194031-0bbf44be-9.pdf
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
form 990: www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/270/458/2014-270458242-0ba942c4-9.pdf
Preliminary research assistance provided by:
Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry: www.wits.ac.za/csmi
Wits City Institute: www.wits.ac.za/cityinstitute
University of the Witwatersrand: https://www.wits.ac.za/about-wits/governance/strategic-leadership/annual-reports/
Federation for a Sustainable Environment: www.fse.org.za
Bench Marks Foundation: www.bench-marks.org.za