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Innovators Transforming African Media

Ideas for spurring data-driven journalism, verifying media reports, and creating better tools for investigative and citizen journalism emerged as winners in Africa’s first news innovation contest.

The African Media Initiative announced the 20 winners of its African News Innovation Challenge, which aims to drive media innovation by investing $1 million in startup capital. Twenty winners will receive between $10,000 and $100,000, along with tech support and business development advice.

“Finding and supporting great ideas for improving news reporting was one of our chief aims,” said African Media Initiative Chief Executive Amadou Mahtar Ba. “But an equally important objective was to kick-start a pan-African community of news innovators and journalism technologists.”

This new community is developing homegrown solutions to some of the biggest challenges of the digital age: How do we know if the information we’re hearing, watching, or reading is accurate? How can we make sense of and find patterns in the tremendous amount of data we generate? How do we make sure all our voices are heard? And how do we hold our institutions accountable?

Here are four of the ways Africa’s innovators aim to solve these problems:


Several winning projects want to make it easier for citizens to tell what they see and know — and for news organizations to more easily share these reports with their audience. For example, citizen reporters will be able to use CorruptionNETon their mobile phones to file reports to newsrooms about corruption or misuse of public resources, while Citizen Desk will help news organizations incorporate citizen reports into their editorial workflow.
This alpha prototype video from challenge winner Citizen Desk, demonstrates a product that helps newsrooms build their own citizen reporter platforms.

Others will use crowdsourced reports to tell stories in innovative ways. ListeningPost will launch Africa’s first social media newsroom. It will establish “a customized Storyful dashboard that aggregates social media posts and will include mobile apps that commission and sell crowdsourced photos and news,” according to ANIC. The cross-border LastMile Crowdmapping project will use maps to better explain complex investigative stories. It will show consumers where goods, such as chocolate and wood, originated in Africa’s supply chain…

Read More: Jennifer Dorroh,
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