A new $1 million programme of reporting grants for African journalists was launched in Addis Ababa on Sunday during the African Union 50th anniversary celebrations. The African Story Challenge will award over 100 reporting grants for stories on development issues.
The Story Challenge is a project of the African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators. AMI content development director and Knight International Journalism Fellow Joseph Warungu is leading the project.
“This new challenge will encourage journalists to experiment with new content ideas and find new ways to engage audiences through mobile technology, social media and other digital tools,” said Warungu, a former BBC Africa Editor. “The awards will make a major difference in the number and quality of stories produced on health and development issues in Africa.”
The new competition will offer journalists grants to support investigative, multimedia and data-driven stories that aim to improve health and prosperity across the continent.
Journalists chosen for the grants will come together for intensive sessions to improve their project ideas. Grantees who produce the best stories published or broadcast in media that reach African audiences will win cash prizes or a major international reporting trip.
“It is essential to encourage and reward African journalists and news organisations that go the extra mile to deliver high-quality digital news and information to promote transparency, accountability and a higher quality of life for our citizens. We can reboot journalism in Africa by incentivizing stories that count,” said AMI Chief Executive Amadou Mahtar Ba.
The African Story Challenge will run in five themed cycles. Grant requests for stories focusing on agriculture and food security, the first theme, will be accepted from 26 May to 14 June, 2013. Other themes will include health, business and technology.
An international panel of editors and media experts will judge the entries. Contest details are available at africanstorychallenge.com and on the websites of AMI, ICFJ and the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet).
The African Story Challenge is supported by an $800 000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme also has support from the African Development Bank and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).