Over 350 story pitches were submitted in the first round of proposals for the $500,000 impactAFRICA fund for data-driven investigative storytelling. Now a second call has been launched looking for investigative story pitches by journalists in six countries.
“The first round produced over 350 story pitches, ranging from investigations into water hygiene to unscrupulous funeral industries. Our independent jury is currently selecting the 10 best ideas for support,” says impactAFRICA programme manager, Haji Mohamed Dawjee.
Journalists with digital storytelling ideas that go beyond ordinary reporting to expose new or under-reported issues in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia stand to win cash grants, technology support, and editorial mentoring on their projects.
“Development issues are important, but are often reported in a boring way. What we’re looking for is compelling storytelling, told in an original way, that uses digital technologies for improved audience engagement,” says impactAFRICA director, Justin Arenstein. “You could also use data to personalise or localise stories but, most importantly, we’re looking for journalism that creates impact.”
The initiative is part of the impactAFRICA programme to provide support for pioneering African journalism that uses data or digital tools to tackle development issues, such as public healthcare, water, sanitation, the effects of air and water pollution on African communities, climate change, and other development issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The 10 semi-finalists will all attend a StoryCamp to refine their project plans, and will then receive cash grants up to a maximum of $20,000 along with additional support from technologists and editorial experts to help produce their projects.
“We will help the resulting stories get syndicated both in Africa and the wider world,” Dawjee adds. “The best of these published stories will be eligible for three additional prizes.”
The additional impactAFRICA prizes will recognise the best investigative report, the best data-driven story and the best service journalism project.
impactAFRICA will host a series of online StoryLab workshops and webinars ahead of the application deadline, with global experts and mentors, to help prospective applicants explore possible topics and to brainstorm solutions to technical challenges. Details about the skills programme, which is open to all Africans who want to participate, can be found here.
The initiative is run through a partnership between Code for Africa (CfAfrica) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). Arenstein founded CfAfrica in 2012 as an ICFJ initiative and continues to manage it as part of an ICFJ Knight Fellowship. A consortium of donors led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and including the World Bank is funding impactAFRICA.
BMGF’s support has also enabled CfAfrica and ICFJ to recruit some of the continent’s most innovative digital news pioneers as ICFJ Knight Fellows, including the former editors-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian in South Africa (Chris Roper) and Star newspaper in Kenya (Catherine Gicheru), and Quartz Africa’s correspondent in Tanzania (Omar Mohammed). In Nigeria, pioneering civic technologist Temi Adeoye manages CfAfrica’s local CitizenLab, while Adi Eyal manages a similar lab at Code for South Africa and David Lemayian manages an umbrella pan-African tech lab out of Kenya.
The full details and guidelines are here.