How do you teach data literacy? How do you convince your editors? How do you protect journalists from retaliation? How do you get data when there are no FOIA laws?
These were just a few of the questions addressed at the session “Closing the Digital and Data Divide: Data Journalism in Developing Countries.”
There are no simple answers, and in some cases no clear solution in sight, said Eva Constantaras, the session’s speaker and the data journalism advisor for Internews.
“Journalists all around the world are afraid of math,” she says. “Kenya’s no exception.”
Internews is a non-profit with the goal of improving the quality of news around the world. Constantaras is based in Kenya, the home of Internews’ pilot data journalism project.
The aim of the project is to improve data-driven journalism and literacy amongst journalists, politicians and citizens.
One reason Kenya was picked is because of its booming technology sector. There’s a big group of developers and coders who can work with journalists but “it’s been a process to bring groups together,” she says.
And she’s not the only person facing challenges. Other international journalists at the event shared their personal obstacles — and slow steps to success.
Constantaras says its in the best interests of media in the developing world to place a higher emphasis on data-based storytelling. If they don’t, they’ll face financial consequences.
“The economic crisis that came to western media will eventually catch up with them,” Constantaras says. “And so the best way to prepare is to get ahead with digital and data journalism skills.”