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Researchers: State of the Newsroom Malawi

Date Posted: Sep 21, 2020

Job Description


The Basel Institute`s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) has partnered with the Wits Journalism (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) , to work with the Tackling Serious and Organised Corruption (TSOC) programme in Malawi in publishing  a State of the Newsroom report for Malawi. This report will lead to discussion and debate on the media landscape in Malawi, leading to better and more effective support for investigative journalism and investigative journalists in the country.

About the Basel Institute on Governance

The Basel Institute on Governance (Basel Institute) is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting governments and private-sector partners to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen governance systems. Its legal status is that of a Foundation registered in Basel, Switzerland.

Project: Tackling Serious and Organised Corruption (TSOC) Malawi

The Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) is implementing a four-year programme Tackling Serious and organized Corruption (TSOC) in support of Malawi’s efforts to confront corruption and related complex financial crime. The program’s work focuses on strengthening investigation and prosecution capacity, with a view to recovering stolen assets. In addition, the programme supports the review of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and a range of prevention-related activities, including in relation to the AML/CTF framework and engaging with non-state actors, such as journalists, civil society organisations and the private sector.


State of the Newsroom Malawi is expected to be an annual report published by Wits Journalism and the TSOC programme. It will be a sister publication to the State of the Newsroom published in South Africa each year (see: )     

The objectives of the report are: 

  • To foster an environment of debate around key issues impacting on the news media and the practice of journalism in the country, including community media and the various forms of informal journalism that occur both online and offline in the country;
  • To serve as a publication of record of key issues, conflicts, and trends in the evolving media landscape in the country;
  • To encourage critical self-reflection amongst media practitioners with respect to the purpose of journalism in supporting and sustaining democracy;
  • To address issues important to media diversity, pluralism and sustainability, such as media ownership and funding, media ethics, journalist safety and job security, transformation in the newsroom, and new innovations and trends in journalism; and
  • To publish articles which are useful and accessible to a wide target readership, including journalists, media owners and entrepreneurs, media activists and rights organisations, media researchers, academics and government policy-makers.




It is against this background that the project is seeking Consultant Researchers who will be required to conduct research and related tasks appropriate to developing content for  research-based articles  for the State of the Newsroom Malawi report.


Role / Assignment

The consultant will conduct research and related tasks appropriate to developing the content for one research-based article  for the State of the Newsroom Malawi report, in line with the topics summarised below.



The applicant must have substantial experience in the topic focus area. He/she must have proven research skills, and be able to write well in English.

What to do

We invite potential researchers to submit a half-page motivation of why they would be a good candidate to write one of research-based articles summarised below.  The applicant should submit their curriculum vitae along with the half-page motivation.


Topics for research-based articles

The following are the outlines of the focus areas for the research-based articles that we wish to publish in State of the Newsroom Malawi. Each article will be 6000-8000 words. The final approach of the research, and the details of the methodology, will be determined in consultation with the project coordinator.

Sustainability of the media sector in Malawi

How does the media make money, and is this sustainable? What are the key sustainability challenges it faces? Which sector (print, broadcast, internet) is more sustainable and why? This would involve interviews with managing editors and others to build up a picture of sustainability challenges of the Malawian media.

Journalism, retrenchments and salaries

How have retrenchments impacted on the media sector in Malawi over the last 3-4 years? How many journalists are employed in the sector? What sort of salaries do they get? What sort of contracts do they have (e.g. permanent, contractual etc)? What sort of workplace rights do they have? Are the journalists young or experienced? What does this tell us about capacity in the Malawian newsroom? This research would be based on a survey and interviews. The researcher would try to come up with hard evidence and numbers.

Challenges in reporting on corruption in the Malawian context

What challenges do working journalists face when investigating and reporting on corruption? Where do they get their information from, and how do they work with sources? Are they under threat by the state or other powerful groups? Do they feel that they are being surveilled, and are they ever threatened? What are the risks? Do they come up against gatekeeping in their own newsroom, with Editors refusing to publish stories? What are their needs, both in terms of support in the newsroom, and training needs? This article will be developed through about 7-8 interviews with investigative journalists in Malawi, working in different media.

The print media’s coverage of corruption – what are the gaps, what are the limitations?

This article will analyse coverage of corruption in select newspapers, according to a time frame proposed by the author. The researcher will map the kinds of stories and topics reported on, the angles, and subjects of investigation (e.g. government, business people, civil society etc), amongst any other interesting aspects of the content analysed. The author might consider basing his/her analysis on the issue of corruption in Covid-related procurements to give it a thematic focus, or they might propose another theme for analysis. The purpose of this analysis to offer some analysis of whether or not the print media in Malawi is able to hold those in power to account, or if it suffers important limitations in what it chooses to talk about and expose. 

Does media attention hold the government to account in Malawi?

Does increased media pressure in Malawi result in improved government performance to combat corruption or improved government response to corruption? This article will present evidence to answer this question. For example, this could involve a timeline study of news and unfolding events in the public domain.


Interested candidates should submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) to

Gregory Gondwe


and TSOC Programme Manager in Malawi, Misozi Samuti at:

Email: misozi.samuti@baselgovernanceorg 

by the close of business on Friday 25 September, 2020.

Deadline for expression of interest: 25 September,2020

Skills Required

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