Justin Arenstein: Data Journalism as a Revenue Stream is Catching on in Africa

Mar 122014

With traditional advertising no longer a sustainable business model, news outlets worldwide are experimenting with alternatives, from holding events to putting up paywalls. Now, a new model is on the rise: data as revenue.

In the U.S., ProPublica recently opened a data store, charging a one-time fee for cleaned-up data sets. In Kenya, The Star is experimenting with charging premium text messaging rates for SMS-based health apps, essentially using value-added data as a revenue source.

News outlets in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda are testing out the concept as well, says ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Justin Arenstein.

“It is something that is catching on and it seems to be shaping commercial thinking around media models in Africa,” Arenstein told IJNet.

Arenstein advises Code4Kenya, a branch of Code for Africa, which supported the Star with its project.

In a video interview, Arenstein talked with IJNet about the concept of selling data to raise revenue, experiments taking shape across Africa and why mobile users in Africa may be more open to the model than people in some other regions.

Watch the interview on IJNet.


The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via quinn.anya.