African data journalism gets significant boost from Gates Foundation

Digital Content

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed off on a $4.7 million  grant to promote data journalism in Africa. The pilot programme will initially run in three regional ‘hub’ nations – South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria and includes the setting up of a cadet school in Cape Town. Glenda Nevill reports.

The programme, which will run for three years, is borne out of a series of pilot projects by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and will be managed by Code for Africa (CfAfrica), says CfAfrica strategist, Justin Arenstein.

“In many places, the media has lost touch with real people. Our aim is to make journalism relevant again to ordinary people. Journalism needs to tackle the issues that keep people awake at night: like how to keep your children safe, healthy, and educated,” says Arenstein. “To do that, media organisations have to discover what their audiences really care about and then develop journalism that gives the audience actionable information.”

Arenstein says the BMGF grant has already allowed them to recruit some of Africa’s most innovative digital news pioneers as ICFJ Knight Fellows. These include former editor in chief of the Mail & Guardian, Chris Roper, and newsroom trainer and data journalism pioneer, Raymond Joseph, who will head the cadet school.

As well as underwriting the school, the grant will also pioneer sensor and drone journalism in Africa. Sensor journalism, says Arenstein, is “basically data journalism that uses the data generated by environmental sensors, such as air pollution sensors, water quality sensors, noise level sensors, temperature sensors”.
Source: blog wan-ifra.org 19 August 2015