Spotlight on the Naija Data Ladies: A network of women data journalists in Nigeria (IJNET )

| November 13, 2017

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A group of female journalists and data experts in Nigeria is working to get more women using multimedia technology, and encouraging more newsrooms to use data in their reporting.

The journalists founded the Naija Data Ladies network in April 2017. The group aims to produce and promote data-driven news stories on health and development issues in major Nigerian newsrooms.

The network currently has 10 members who are affiliated with national news outlets such as Daily Trust, The Nation, and Punch. Other members are Nigerian journalists working for international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and Voice of America. Their stories focus on issues such as malnutrition, maternal health, female genital mutilation, and human trafficking.

Jacopo Ottaviani helped launch the Naija Data Ladies network. He is a data editor at Code for Africa, a civic media organization with regional hubs in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. Mr. Ottaviani says the Naija Data Ladies group was inspired in part by Mariana Santos’ work empowering Latin American women in digital media.

Mr. Ottaviani explains: “We were … driven by the idea of building the capacity and skill sets of journalists already working in Nigerian newsrooms, who can then disseminate the culture of data to their colleagues.”

Building that “culture of data” means helping journalists learn how to use computer tools to gather, analyze, and communicate statistical information. The Naija Data Ladies project also brings together media professionals from different backgrounds to produce data stories that typically focus on solutions. Code for Africa and Knight Fellows from the International Center for Journalists provide training, technology assistance, and small grants to support in-depth reporting.

Mr. Ottaviani adds: “Code for Africa connects the Data Ladies with our pan-African team of experts who offer training and support on issues such as data visualization, audience engagement strategies, social videos, drone journalism, and more.”

The Naija Data Ladies team is already producing unique reporting in partnership with Nigerian newsrooms. For example, Data Ladies team member and Punch journalist Bukola Adebayo produced the Shifting Sands project in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The project looks at the environmental and socio-economic impacts of unchecked mining and dredging along the shorelines of Lagos, Nigeria. Coverage includes an interactive website, drone footage, and elements of data journalism.

Ms. Adebayo says: “Being a part of the Naija Data Ladies team has made me a better data cruncher for the benefit of our audience…. I’m able to break down complex data in a way that makes it more relevant and applicable to our audiences’ lives and engages them in new ways.”

Another example is the pairing of radio journalist Bunmi Yekini with photojournalist Flourish Chukwurah. In partnership with Radio One, they are using 360° video to produce a multimedia package profiling one of the largest slums in Lagos.

Mr. Ottaviani says he hopes to replicate the Naija Data Ladies network across the continent, creating a pan-African network of female journalists and data experts.

He adds: “We hope to inspire transnational data-driven reporting projects through cross-country collaboration by the Data Ladies. This … would certainly enhance news content on the continent.”

Naija Data Ladies is a growing community open to female journalists and media technologists, including freelancers, in Nigeria. Those interested in learning more about the program can reach out to Mr. Ottaviani (@JacopoOttaviani) or the Code for Nigeria program lead, Nkechi Okwuone (@enkayfreda).

This story was adapted from an article titled “Naija Data Ladies: The rise of a network of women data journalists in Nigeria” originally published by the International Journalists’ Network. To read the original article, please see:

Photo: 360° video and photojournalist Flourish Chukwurah (center) and Radio One journalist Bunmi Yekini (right) on a Naija Data Ladies assignment in Lagos, Nigeria. Image credit Flourish Chukwurah.