ANIC is looking for ideas that will transform the way that African media work. This means that your idea should offer significant and tangible improvements to existing tools or techniques, or should propose new ways for African journalists to gather news, tell stories, engage with audiences, or sustain media organisations.
Ideas that have the potential to be replicated or that could scale continentally will have an advantage.
Not in South Africa. Mozilla OpenNews, Code4America, and Code4Kenya all prove the dramatic impact created by inserting technologist “change agents” into organisations. Code4Democracy will bring the revolution to South African newsrooms.
South African media are among the largest in Africa, owning or influencing TV, radio, and print media across the continent. But, South Africa trails on open data / data journalism, robbing tens of millions of citizens of opportunities for participatory governance and civic engagement. Code4Democracy will take the risk out of experimenting by offering free ‘kickstarter’ resources.
Learning from proven models elsewhere, Code4Democracy will adopt a two-pronged approach: first, it will replicate the Mozilla OpenNews / Code4Kenya model by creating a corps of civic developers who are embedded into thought-leader newsrooms for between three and six months each to help kickstart data-driven journalism pilot projects, plus digital engagement with audiences. Second, Code4Democracy will establish a central SWAT team of specialist developers to support the embedded ‘fellows’, re-engineer and localise proven apps or projects from up north, and systematically liberate and aggregate public data into an easy-to-access public portal for others to build upon.
Code4Democracy is being championed by the new Open Democracy & Data Initiative (ODADI), a broad-based civil society and media coalition that includes Ndifuna Ukwazi, the Money & Politics Project at OSF-SA, ODAC, PMG, Right2Know, SJC, Silicon Cape, GroundUp, and others. Media partners include Africa’s leading investigative newspaper, Mail&Guardian, and the continent’s largest street newspaper, the Big Issue, as well as a coalition of individual media and Access-to-Information (ATI) activists. ODADI has also established partnerships with open data leaders elsewhere in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Support for this proposal will therefore have wide impact in South Africa’s media / ATI / open data ecosystem.
ODADI has created a CKAN data portal for South Africa, and has reached out to Code4Kenya and Mozilla OpenNews for technical advice and possible synergistic partnerships. ODADI is also convening its first 48hr public hackathon to liberate public data for social good in Cape Town on 3-5 August, and has begun scraping and aggregating key public accountability datasets to help provide journalists and civic watchdogs with raw information for evidence-based analysis and reportage. ODADI is also in early discussion with local tech incubators to secure space for the central SWAT team. With key partnerships in place, ODADI will be able to promptly rollout Code4Democracy should this proposal be successful.
Once proof-of-concept has been established, ODADI will reach out to local CSOs and donors with a strong civic media focus to integrate Code4Democracy into their core funding strategies for the next five years; initial contacts have already been made with interested foundations. Thereafter, the initiative should have delivered on its transformative agenda.