During the 2023 True Story Awards in Bern, Switzerland – in which Debunk Media’s editor-in-chief Isaac Otidi Amuke was the Africa and Middle East finalist for his story The Rise and Fall of Mike Sonko, the team at the True Story Festival invited Swiss journalist and deputy editor-in-chief at Das MAGAZIN Barbara Achermann to be in conversation with Isaac at the Gesellschaft zu Zimmerleuten. After the one hour session in front of a packed room, Barbara asked whether getting a post-panel coffee was a good idea. It was at this coffee, where part of the conversation revolved around Barbara’s and Isaac’s passion for longreads and storytelling and how difficult it is to finance in-depth investigations and complex storytelling that Barbara volunteered that she had been a recipient of an award during the 2023 Swiss Press Awards (in which she was the overall winner in the print category), and that she wanted to donate part of her prize money to either a deserving journalist or newsroom. Would Debunk be interested? (She had apparently scanned through some of Debunk’s content and found it worthwhile). This is what quickly crystallized into the Debunk Barbara Achermann Fellowship.
Barbara Achermann is a Swiss journalist and author. She is deputy editor-in-chief of Das MAGAZIN, a magazine that cultivates in-depth reporting and investigative journalism. Previously, she was an editor at the German weekly newspaper Die ZEIT. Barbara Achermann’s texts have won several awards, including the German Reporter:innen Preis and the Swiss Press Award. She is the author of Frauenwunderland, a nonfiction book about the emancipation of Rwandan women.
Debunk Media is a Nairobi-based independent newsroom covering The 3Ps and a D, being People, Politics, Pop-culture and Debunked (data journalism and fact checking). Founded in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 by journalist and documentary filmmaker Asha Ahmed Mwilu – who quit her job and was lucky to land a spot as a media business mentee for a year at the Aga Khan University Innovation Center in Nairobi – Debunk has grown from being a video/visual-first project focusing on explainers into a multimedia and multiplatform media company with burgeoning pivots such as Debunk Live, Debunk Women and the forthcoming (in December 2023) nonfiction/reportage print publication, Debunk Quarterly, in whose second edition the stories resulting from this fellowship will be published in March 2024. The Debunk Barbara Achermann Fellowship is thus yet another shot in the arm for the three year old platform in its pursuit of a different kind of journalism and storytelling for its growing audiences, simply guided by its every society deserves good stories mantra.
Send the below as attachments to [email protected] with ‘FELLOWSHIP’ as the email subject by midnight (EAT), Sunday 10th December 2023.
PS: Debunk Quarterly, and thus the fellowship, currently only accepts pitches from Eastern Africa (DR Congo, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania), and may on very rare occasions accept a truly rare pitch/piece from outside the region.