Lagos, Nigeria – Journalists on Thursday last week gathered at Sheraton Hotel Lagos for the 2019 Data Journalism Master Class organised by the Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism (RCDIJ).
The Centre held the training in partnership with Code for Africa, Code for Nigeria, BudgIT, International Press Centre, and CNN Multichoice African Journalist award winner, Arukaino Umukoro.
The 10-hour intensive training focused on the application of Data Journalism techniques to Public Sector Finance Reporting, Conflict Reporting, and Migration Crisis Reporting.
From the hundreds of applications received from across Nigeria, the forty (40) journalists from across media types and organizations selected were in attendance at the Master Class.
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.
Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade, ably represented by Dr Qasim Akinreti, Lagos NUJ Chairman and Deputy Director News at VoN, who spoke on the importance of data journalism in Nigeria at the training, said a data journalist looks beyond figures by linking numbers to development with the overall objective of holding government to public accountability.
He said, “You must be able to predict what happens in politics, business and so on. 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, Dr Akinreti said that the NUJ was ready to partner with Ripples Nigeria, RCDIJ’s sister organization, to report community projects using data journalism as a tool.
Resource partners for the Master Class from Code for Africa and Code for Nigeria, John Eromosele and Blaise Aboh, respectively, took the participants through intensive and practical sessions on data gathering, fact-checking, data verification, data cleaning, data analysis and data visualization.
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 the value chain to include Revenue Sources, Budgeting Process, Release of Fund, Project Level Development, Project Execution, Monitoring and Evaluation, Savings.
On his part, 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,” says Otto Ikon Abasi Abasi from Proshare WebTV.
For Ridwan Adelaja from Nairametrics, “this 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 Master Class would build on the training to tell better stories.
The Master Class also included interactive sessions and presentation of certificates to participants.