“Data revolution” and journalism in Africa

If data is the answer, what are the African questions?” was the title of my article recently published on the blog, Africascountry. (The blog that takes a critical perspective of Western-centric views of Africa about culture, society, politics or economy. It has become popular with scholars studying media representation of Africa, culture critics, film critics, writers and journalists – who are both audiences and contributors).

In the article, I give an analytical view of the operations of tech/data organizations in Africa that are working as alternatives to legacy news media organisations.

In the wake of news about Cambridge Analytica, and the revelations about its potential influence on elections in Kenya and Nigeria early 2018, as well as the rise of “fake news” in the continent, I offer a critical take on the so-called data revolution in Africa. I also discuss the role of the nonprofits in promoting data-driven projects in Africa (these are mainly intra-continental organisations such as Code for Africa, Africa Check and Open Up). These non-profits aim to complement legacy news organizations’ role in news production, while also fact-checking and implicitly critiquing traditional journalism. The article was published at the time the debate about Cambridge Analytica was raging. I give a fresh researchers’ perspective of the emerging non-profits engaged in data journalism in Africa, considering they are still understudied. (My colleague Raul Ferrer—Karlstad U—and I will soon publish an article about this in the Journal of Digital Journalism, which perhaps will give an initial scientific overview of these organizations in light of debates in journalism studies and practice.

 

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