Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Sub-Saharan Africa: Strengthening storytelling & audience engagement through data journalism & civic innovation


Code for Africa, founded in 2012 by ICFJ Knight Fellow Justin Arenstein, is the continent's open data and civic technology pioneer, designed to spark the use of open data and “digital democracy” tools by media and NGOs to better engage citizens. It is a people-driven movement focused on empowering active citizenry and strengthening civic watchdogs to improve government accountability and public services.

Through this data-journalism initiative, media are starting to harness data in new ways to build compelling journalistic projects, using strong mobile and interactive web components. The Fellows are helping them to experiment with drones, sensors and other web and mobile toolkits to surface hidden stories, engage citizens through actionable information and drive systemic change in media, government and corporations.

To achieve this, the Fellows are employing a series of strategies, including:

  • Creating and expanding local CitizenLabs that build digital tools for journalism and help media to adopt them
  • Embedding developers and data journalists in media to enhance their use of data
  • Connecting communities of journalists and technologists through groups like Hacks/Hackers to spark collaboration and sharing of ideas
  • Leading boot camps and other events that build skills, and create teams and projects to jumpstart the use of data

The members of the team are:

  • Justin Arenstein, the initiative’s digital strategist, is providing pan-African vision and connecting it to his other initiatives for greater regional impact, including the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting, winning projects from the 2012 African News Innovation Challenge and Hacks/Hackers Africa.

  • Chris Roper, the initiative’s contest strategist, is overseeing the work of the in-country Fellows and driving media synergies that can amplify the impact of this work elsewhere on the continent.

  • Catherine Gicheru, the in-country fellow in Kenya, is helping to launch a new Code for Kenya CitizenLab, expanding Hacks/Hackers in Nairobi, and coordinating projects incorporating Outernet and other tools in collaboration with local media.

  • Stephen Abbott Pugh, the initiative’s audience engagement strategist, is ensuring that the content, tools and events launched with partners effectively reach audiences and enable new forms of interaction with news.

  • Raymond Joseph, the in-country fellow in South Africa, is collaborating with Code for South Africa to launch a “cadet school” that will train the next generation of data journalists and embed them into news partner agencies, expanding the Hacks/Hackers communities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and coordinating projects incorporating sensors and other tools in collaboration with local media.

  • Temi Adeoye, the in-country fellow in Nigeria, is building CitizenLab, a network of civic hackers, data wranglers and digital storytellers to harness the power of data to develop compelling stories.

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