In DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE Chris Anyanwu investigates toxic water and dumping in the River Niger in Nigeria. Anyanwu was arrested and imprisoned by dictator Sani Abacha in 1995 for breaking a story that prominent Nigerian citizens had been arrested in an attempted coup that the government denied had happened. She was imprisoned until 1998. When Anyanwu was released she started The Sunday Magazine, the independent television production company in Abuja, Nigeria.
What story (or stories) have you worked on since filming wrapped on DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE?
A two-part story on air crashes called The Dying River Death in the Air, and many more.
What do you think of the present and future of independent journalism?
Independent journalism today is the place for heavy burdens/social responsibilities and lots of struggle for survival. We are yet to reach the comfort zone. Tomorrow, independent journalism will occupy a place of great respect and arrive at a more comfortable plateau.
How has technology influenced your job?
On the one hand, it opens up new vistas, especially in communication. It offers better and more speedy ways of getting the business done. But operating in a developing country with earnings on that level, keeping in tune on certain levels means being able to afford technology priced at income levels of the developed world.
How do you find your stories?
Well, one thing I can say is that we try to do stories that just don't blow away. There is always a social significance––something in it that someone can grasp and move to the next level, be it business or development effort.
Of all the stories you have covered, which has been most important, or the one you feel most proud of?
Dying River has led to a massive reinvestment by government in dredging and renewal of the water transport system. It also awakened the local people and their government to the wasted beauty and tourism potentials. From January this year, when we ran the last installment, the river shores have become highly priced for real estate development. There was no house of any consequence we could remember when we shot the documentary. Now there are scores of beautiful houses being constructed. And the state government has taken up the task of re-planning the area and putting it to best use. A local NGO [non-governmental organization] nominated the program for award. We are happy that it had a positive impact.
How is your television production company (The Sunday Magazine) doing?
"TSM" is doing fine.
Read more by and about Chris Anyanwu and her work:
The Days of Terror
by Chris N. D. Anyanwu
(Spectrum Books Ltd., 2002)
The Sunday Magazine
International Women's Media Foundation: Fifteen Years of Courage: Chris Anyanwu
World Association of Newspapers: Out of Prison - And Back to Face the Mountain
Read about the other journalists featured in the film >>