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Tracking the Backlash, Africa Editor

Fully remote. Candidates can be based anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
Closing date
23 Oct 2021

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Online, Digital, International, News
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Job Details

Purpose of the role and key responsibilities


openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash project investigates organised opposition to women’s and LGBT rights across the world. Over the last year we have: revealed several hundred million dollars of ‘dark money’ from US Christian Right groups supporting anti-rights campaigns globally – including attacks on sex education in Africa; exposed coordinated anti-abortion projects targeting vulnerable pregnant women with misinformation and using them “like guinea pigs” for untested and unregulated treatments; and documented the global scale of World Health Organization guidelines not being followed during the pandemic, putting women’s lives and health at risk. 

Our investigations were cited more than 400 times in 2020, across the global media – including by the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, AllAfrica, The Mail & Guardian and Daily Maverick (South Africa), the Daily Monitor (Uganda) and Premium Times (Nigeria). Aid donors promised action and launched their own inquiries in response to our investigation that revealed anti-LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ at health facilities run by groups they fund. YouTube closed an account that was pushing a prominent Nigerian televangelists’s anti-LGBT messages, in response to another of our investigations. We collaborate across borders and backgrounds and, since 2018, we have supported more than ten young women and LGBTIQ people with fellowships to develop their skills. Our work has been nominated for many awards, including the British Journalism Awards. 

You will be primarily responsible for commissioning, editing and reporting impactful Tracking the Backlash investigations in Africa (including Francophone West Africa). You will oversee an East Africa Reporter and one to two other colleagues including an early-career fellow that you will mentor (or arrange mentorship for). You will also strengthen and liaise with our network of freelance contributors and other media partners on the continent. The aim is to achieve impact on both of Tracking the Backlash’s overarching goals: reversing the backlash against women’s and LGBTIQ rights; and challenging the exclusion of diverse voices in the media. 

You may be based anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, including Francophone West Africa (though you must have professional fluency in English and several years of experience as an English-language editor). This is a full-time role with an initial 12-month contract and the possibility of long-term renewal, subject to funding. Women and LGBTIQ candidates who have demonstrable passion for independent media projects are particularly encouraged to apply.


Main duties

- Producing ambitious and impactful investigative journalism for the Tracking the Backlash series, for publication on and other media outlets

- Commissioning freelancers and coordinating contributors across the region to work on high-quality, in-depth and cross-border investigations

- Text-editing investigative stories as well as occasional news and feature pieces, including improving structure, ‘nut grafs’ and drafting headlines and standfirsts

- Reviewing and ensuring appropriate use of evidence and attribution in complex investigations, including sources such as large datasets, leaked documents and undercover recordings

- Overseeing and approving annual and project-based physical and digital security risk assessments for team members and freelancers in Africa

- Ensuring that best journalistic practices are followed throughout, including that all published material is legally defensible and does not damage oD’s reputation 

- Liaising with openDemocracy’s Head of Global Investigations to ensure she has visibility over complex projects, and with lawyers where legal advice or reviews are needed

- Supporting other team members in the region and globally to design, execute and produce impactful hypothesis-led investigative stories, including pilot projects where relevant

- Mentoring 1-2 fellows a year to develop investigative skills and confidence, and mentoring our new East Africa Reporter (formerly a Tracking the Backlash fellow)


Other duties

- Building a strong, diverse and active network of journalists and NGO, research and media contacts involved in tracking the backlash across Africa

- Representing Tracking the Backlash to external partners, including media interviews, as needed

- Monitoring the impact of our investigations including on policy and public debates

- Participating in internal strategy and planning meetings for Tracking the Backlash 

- Other administrative, editorial and production assistance, as needed


Required skills and experience



  • At least six years of professional, full-time investigative journalism experience (with at least two years of experience as an investigations editor, in English)
  • A passion for fiercely independent journalism as a crucial piece of the ongoing, unfinished democratic project, and the need to include women’s and LGBT human rights in this
  • High standards, consistency and reliability in terms of a high level of ambition and ensuring a consistently high level of reporting, editing and production quality, as well as ability to work in a fast-paced context and consistently meet deadlines
  • A demonstrable ability to edit as well as write engaging, well-structured, grammatically correct articles, securely and explicitly grounded in fact, distinguishing fact and opinion, minimising legal risk and following house style
  • A track record of editing and producing impactful investigative journalism (preferably on relevant themes, or using applicable/transferable tools and techniques)
  • Demonstrable experience with specific investigative skills such as undercover reporting, data journalism, finding leads and sources online and analysing financial accounts
  • A strong understanding of media law in your country and best practices in investigative journalism, in order to collect information safely and ethically
  • Experience collaborating in a team, ideally across borders and on major projects, and experience developing strong relationships with freelance journalists
  • Experience carrying out (physical and digital) security risk assessments
  • Experience training or mentoring younger journalists committed to equity and diversity
  • Professional fluency in English (other languages are strongly desirable)
  • Willingness to travel for stories and meetings (not expected to exceed 10% of your time), where and when safe, depending on routine and COVID-19 risk assessments




  • Experience developing impactful dissemination strategies, writing press releases and working with other media and civil society partners to amplify the reach of a story
  • Experience producing multimedia content (such as video, audio or data visualisations)
  • Experience managing budgets and reporting to funders on grant commitments
  • Knowledge of women’s and LGBTIQ rights issues in Africa, and/or experience investigating far Right, authoritarian or religious conservative movements
  • Experience with content management systems (for example, Drupal, WordPress)
  • Fluency in other languages (particularly French, German or Russian)


Deadline for applications: Sunday, 2 October, at 11:59


openDemocracy is an independent global media platform publishing up to 60 articles a week and attracting over 8 million visits per year.

Through reporting and analysis of social and political issues, openDemocracy seeks to challenge power and encourage democratic debate across the world. With human rights as our central guiding focus, we ask tough questions about freedom, justice and democracy.

We give those fighting for their rights the agency to make their case and to inspire action.

Please click APPLY NOW and include your CV and a personalised cover letter telling us why this is the job for you. Please also state your salary expectations.

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