The project tagged ‘NAN CHARTS’ was launched in May 2017. As an innovation fellow for Code for Africa, I coordinated and manage a data the digital journalism program which involved coaching and training News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reporters and editors in Lagos and Abuja on several tools, technologies and methodologies to empower them with knowledge, skills and to entrench data as ‘mission critical’ for their newsrooms to churn out better stories. A second mission was to ensure that they began publishing and breaking new stories using data in the form of charts and visualizations. NAN before now was an ‘old school’ or rather analog news agency.
What makes this project innovative?
Why is this project special or innovative? This project went beyond the creation of charts, it ensured that these charts and visualizations made their way into breaking news stories published on the NAN website. Another reason why the project is special is that it added the CAPACITY BUILDING APPROACH in that it ensured online, offline and one-on-one skills and capacity building training for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) journalists to be able to acquire data knowledge which would aid them become better data journalists. It went far into creating data journalists out of reporters who rarely understood the language of data or its advantages in news. First to understand why this project is different, you must first understand what News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) does; NAN is the primary news content provider for Nigeria’s newspapers, electronic media and bloggers. Established by the Nigerian Government via Decree 19 in 1976, NAN became operational on 2 October 1978, providing General News Service to subscribers in three bulletins published daily. With the introduction of satellite technology in 1998, the agency began to transmit stories to its clients simultaneously as they were edited and fit to print. This continues today, via the world wide web and e-mail, with subscribers now able to log-in to our portal, newsroom.nan.ng, to pick the news they want. With substantial reach and mobility across the 36 states of Nigeria, and with 501 editorial staff nationwide and a correspondent in New York, NAN produces more than 200 stories per day, with additional collaboration with Reuters and Xinhua news agencies. NAN publishes authoritative news as it breaks and has over 200 news and media agencies subscribed to it.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
Before now NAN was an 'old school' or rather analog news agency, hence the importance and timeliness of this project. In trying to reforming a news agency with such background, one sees the difficulties therein trying to change human behavior and newsroom culture that has been built in over 3 decades. In 7 months, deploying a mixture of strategy, operational capability, technical know-how, diplomacy and LOTS of PATIENCE, I transformed the previously barely digital newsroom into a data-driven one through 15 newsroom training which resulted in over the creation of over 80 news breaking charts, over 70 data driven stories circulation across over 30 online news platforms. More so, in 7 months over 500 journalists and reporters were trained. To measure, during each training sessions, attendance was collected. Also stories published with charts were tracked. See google drive link; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11D3msXwQWZP6a0q5TOE-W5D-tGbLPWHQfGtob0lgPII/edit?ts=59655ca6#gid=0
Source and methodology
Some of the journalists I worked with most of the time are attached to government agencies from whence they acquire data with which the charts are created. For other stories we sourced data from some of the following platforms which are official government sources and renowned international organizations;UNICEFNational Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeNigeria Communications Commission - https://www.ncc.gov.ng/stakeholder/statistics-reports/industry-overviewhttp://www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/Nigeria stock exchange - www.nse.com.ng/Office of the Accountant General of the Federation https://oaugf.ng/Budget Office of the Federation - Federal Republic of Nigeriawww.budgetoffice.gov.ng/Transmission Company of Nigeria - www.tcnorg.com/National Identity Management Commission (NIMIC) - https://www.nimc.gov.ng/Federal Ministry of Niger Delta AffairsMinistry of Finance - www.finance.gov.ng/https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/portfolio/country/?loc=NGA&k=430b8acd-ef36-4ef1-8231-0e730499d19aThe World Bank Databasehttps://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhds/index.htm
The technologies used mainly in 'The Atlas' chart builder created by Quartz a digitally native news outlet, born in 2012, for business people in the new global economy. Quartz publish bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview, built primarily for the devices closest at hand: tablets and mobile phones.Other technologies used was the Microsoft Excel which was used for initial data cleaning and analysis before being exported to The Atlas.Lastly let me let you know that I wouldn't have been able to achieve success without patience, diplomacy, passion and human behavior understanding. Sometimes these elements come first before any software in projects like this.
The following names are News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Journalists who were outstanding and worked tirelessly to make the project successful. Peter EjioforChinyere Joel-NwokeomaIshaya Rachel