Between 20th and 24th June 2022, Strathmore University Business School, under the Africa Media Hub, trained 30 African journalists in the Data Journalism Training Programme. The programme was offered in partnership with the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The five-day online sessions were attended by WAN-IFRA members from 10 African countries.
This Programme was designed for journalists, editors, sub-editors, and media managers to help them understand how to be data-savvy and understand how data journalism is bridging the gaps between numbers and words.
Data Journalism has become key to the future of every media organization. It serves two critical purposes for news organizations: executing the watchdog role and finding unique news stories, which would ordinarily not come from newswires. Data Journalism is indeed the future and the awareness that it is a serious and valuable part of contemporary journalism has well and truly dawned.
Storytelling is primordial, tapping into something that is deep within us. Data Storytelling, therefore, connects to that same ‘thing’ using numbers, narratives and visuals. A good data story connects on a practical, personal or emotional level in some way. “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice,” Rosemary Okello-Orlale, Director at Africa Media Hub, noted as she took the participants through a session on the art of data storytelling. “The ability to take data and have the ability to process it, understand it, extract value from it, visualize it and communicate it, is going to be a very important skill in the decades to come,” she added.
Challenging the participants to always humanize their data, Catherine Gicheru used a quote by Paul Bradshaw, “Data can be the source, or it can be the tool with which the story is told-or it can be both. Like any source, it should be treated with skepticism; and like any tool, we should be conscious of how it can shape and restrict the stories that are created with it.” Data is not always trustworthy and to enhance the credibility of their stories, the participants were encouraged to treat data the same way they would a human source.
Churchill Otieno, the Head of News and Managing Editor at Nation Media Group, took the participants through sessions on newsroom management in a digital era, editorial strategy and how social media has transformed newsroom culture and management. He emphasized the importance of collaboration through data to learn what the audience wants by quoting Peter Vrweij, “Convergence has transformed the journalist from a ‘lone wolf’ into a (multimedia) team player.
“Converged newsrooms offer more opportunities for the public to be informed and involved in a story and consequently offer the reporter and editor more integrated tools to tell the story,” he said. Mr Otieno further noted that the purpose of journalism in today’s world goes beyond the newsroom, editors and journalists, it must be anchored on values to have an impact.
Overall, this Programme sought to impart knowledge on the intersection between new media and mainstream media, data storytelling, data visualization and technology to enhance the perception of the influence of information and communication technologies, especially the internet and traditional journalism. The curriculum was benchmarked on the global practices for African university degree courses and professional certificate training programmes. It also included Africanized contexts, case studies, lectures, interactive sessions and exercises.
The Programme culminated in a virtual graduation ceremony.
About the Africa Media Hub
The Africa Media Hub is housed at Strathmore University Business School. It was established in January 2017 with the aim to be a global leader in shaping the future of business and financial reporting in Africa.
The core principles that established the Africa Media Hub acknowledge that economic, financial, and data journalism can transform the narrative on poverty in Africa by creating a union between the private sector, policymakers, media and academia through the effective use of data to make decisions.
Article by Michelle Nthemba
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