Covering Corruption: The Difficulties of Trying to Make a Difference

September 29, 2010
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

Covering Corruption: The Difficulties of Trying to Make a Difference from CIMA on Vimeo.


Rosemary Armao
Author, Covering Corruption, The Difficulties of Trying to Make a Difference

With comments by

Stefan Candea
Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism
2011 Nieman Fellow

Nathaniel Heller
Global Integrity

Moderated by

David E. Kaplan
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Center for Public Integrity

It is often taken for granted that a free press shining a light on wrongdoing is the way to control corruption. Brave journalists around the world have endured threats and attacks and have even died reporting about corruption. Yet only recently have news organizations begun asking whether what they are doing is making any difference, particularly in states where democracy is weak or non-existent.  How can journalists operate in environments where they cannot access government documents or question officials, and where they are subjected to jail for sedition or libel if they write anything perceived as unfavorable? Where police and politicians are among the corrupt, the courts are bound by the powerful, and people have come to accept petty bribery and gifting as normal, what can journalists do? A new CIMA report by Rosemary Armao, Covering Corruption: The Difficulties of Trying to Make a Difference, examines the impact of reporting about the topic on the incidence of corruption, asking whether and how media have an effect in bringing about reform and better governance. It also explores reporting methods that lead to civil action and reform while keeping journalists safe, and suggests training approaches for media development organizations and educational institutions.

About the Author

Rosemary Armao is an assistant professor of journalism/communication at the State University of New York at Albany. She is also an advisor and member of the board of directors of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a consultant for the Organized Crime and Corruption Project based in Romania. In a career of nearly 40 years, Armao has written and edited at a number of U.S. newspapers, taught at several universities, and worked on reporting and media development projects in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. She is a former executive director and member of the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a former Knight International Press Fellow. Armao served as a bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun, managing editor of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, and state and investigative editor of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. She holds degrees from Syracuse University and Ohio State University.

About the Participants

Stefan Candea is the co-founder of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism and is currently a Carroll Binder Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He is involved in investigative work, teaching, and advocacy, covering Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Black Sea region. He has worked for print publications and radio and television stations across Romania, and conducts freelance research and production work for several foreign media outlets.  Candea has covered the connections between international organized crime networks and high-ranking politicians and public servants, the international arms trade, illegal international adoptions, and the diamond business. Since March 2001, he has been a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders in Romania.

Nathaniel Heller is the managing director at Global Integrity, which he has led since 2005. From 2002 – 2005, Heller worked at the U.S. Department of State, focusing on European security and transatlantic relations. He was integrally involved with the planning process to modernize U.S. basing arrangements in Europe, the largest shift in the U.S. military presence there since the end of the Cold War, for which he received the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.  In 2004, he served as a foreign policy fellow to the late Senator Edward Kennedy. As a senior associate and James R. Soles Fellow at the Center for Public Integrity from 1999-2002, Nathaniel Heller, along with Chuck Lewis and Marianne Camerer, developed the Integrity Indicators and conceptual model for what is now Global Integrity. Heller is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Delaware and earned his master’s degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

David E. Kaplan is director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a global network of 100 journalists in 50 countries, based at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. Over a 30-year career, he has investigated organized crime, terrorist groups, corporate polluters, corrupt law enforcement officials, neo-Nazis, the banking industry, and the intelligence community. Previously, Kaplan worked as chief investigative correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and as one of two senior editors at the San Francisco-based Center for Investigative Reporting. In 2007, he wrote Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support, a CIMA report on investigative reporting overseas. He has reported from two dozen countries and is a former Fulbright scholar in Japan. Among his books are YAKUZA, widely considered the standard reference on the Japanese mafia; and Fires of the Dragon, on the murder of journalist Henry Liu. Kaplan’s stories have won or shared more than 15 awards, including honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the American Bar Association, Overseas Press Club, and World Affairs Council.