RCDIJ: BudgIT, Code for Africa, Others Empower Journalists

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Funmi Ogundare

Journalists drawn from various media houses converged on Sheraton Hotel, Lagos for the 2019 Data Journalism Masterclass organised by the Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism (RCDIJ).

The training, was held in partnership with Code for Africa, Code for Nigeria, BudgIT, International Press Centre, as well as CNN Multichoice African Journalist award winner, Arukaino Umukoro.

From the hundreds of applications received from across Nigeria, only 40 journalists were selected for the training.

The 10-hour intensive training focused on the application of data journalism techniques to public sector finance, conflict and migration crisis reporting.

According to the Programme Director of RCDIJ, Chinedu Chidi, the application process was highly competitive and successful applicants met a set of standard criteria including, proven investigative reporting experience, and prior data journalism training experience.

“Overall, the final selection reflected a rich mix of balance, diversity and inclusiveness, consistent with the centre’s values,” he said.

The Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade who was represented by Lagos NUJ Chairman and Deputy Director News at VON,

Dr. Qasim Akinreti, spoke on the importance of data journalism in Nigeria noting that data journalists must look beyond figures by linking numbers to development with the overall objective of holding government accountable.

“You must be a able to predict what happens in politics, business and other sectord. You must hold policy makers responsible. Tell the CBN governor he is not getting it right and proffer alternatives.”

While challenging participants to beam their search lights on community news reporting, he said the NUJ was ready to partner Ripples Nigeria, RCDIJ’s sister organisation, to report community projects using data journalism as a tool.

Resource partners for the masterclass from Code for Africa and Code for Nigeria, John Eromosele and Blaise Aboh, took the participants through intensive and practical sessions on data gathering, fact-checking, data verification, data cleaning, data analysis and data visualisation.

The participants were also introduced to tools needed to tell their stories better.

On Public Sector Finance Reporting, the resource person from BudgIT who is also the Head of Extractive Unit at the civil advocacy group, Abel Akeni, challenged participants to identify systemic issues in public financing and investigate same.

While speaking on budget tracking, he highlighted on value chain to include, revenue sources, budgeting process, release of fund, project level development, project execution, monitoring and evaluation as well as savings.

CNN Multichoice African Journalist award winner, Arukaino Umukoro explained that reporting conflict and migration crises should reflect humanity, empathy, accuracy, and respect for privacy rights.

Participants expressed satisfaction at the quality of the training and lauded the centre for the valuable opportunity.

“I will be able to tell stories more with data that people can relate with on the economy, capital market and the financial market,” said Otto Ikon Abasi Abasi from Proshare WebTV.

According to Ridwan Adelaja from Nairametrics, “the training will go a long way in enhancing my expertise. I think every journalist needs to attend this kind of training.”

Executive Director of RCDIJ, Ibemere Samuel, while encouraging journalists to take advantage of other opportunities presented by the centre, expressed optimism that participants at the masterclass would build on the training to tell better stories.

The masterclass featured interactive sessions and presentation of certificates to participants.