Moving journalists in Nigeria from shallow to deep waters with infographics

How local reporters are embracing digital storytelling.

One thing that we’re learning as Hacks/Hackers chapters in Nigeria mature is that there’s a huge appetite for learning digital storytelling and infographics, and our March meetups in Abuja and Lagos were a perfect opportunity to explore the subject further.

At the event, we got into the nitty-gritty of turning dynamic data-sets into beautiful infographics.

We covered details on iconology, shapes, templates, design patterns, general editing, text call-outs, time sliders, shape-files, coordinates, visualizing across platforms, vector and flat icons, as well as techniques and tools to help accelerate workflow. Journalists were able to apply what they’d learned directly to datasets they had been working on, which had proving difficult.

Blaise Aboh-Code for Nigeria Innovation fellow, explicitly teaching Journalists how to make info-graphics

Some of the tools covered

Infogram, Piktochart, TheAtlas, Google Fussion Tables, Tableau public, Map box

Data most times comes dirty, clumsy or complex and can be difficult to comprehend.

Diverse angles to stories are usually discovered upon analysis and cleaning datasets, so journalists need to build interest in the general principles of data as a whole to enable them to tell a story honestly and professionally. The rudiment of data visualisation entails cleaning your data and importing/uploading your cleaned on to any visualisation platform as listed above.

Hacks/Hackers covered cleaning data using Excel or Open Refine, and conversion to machine readable formats such as comma separated values (CSV) and XLS. We also looked at how to identify patterns and trends that can give insights to angles and other support data on same story.

Every dataset has a story, you can either find the datasets for your story or find the story on your data.

Most visualisation tools allow you import custom data, icons and images with an array of beautiful templates to choose. Charts and Map infographics are often driven by data tables. Always use info-graphic styles that best depict or tell your story in a simple way.

Finally, we covered publishing, sharing and embedding infographics into a webpage to complement that story/investigation.

The worlds of hackers and journalists are coming together, as reporting goes digital and Internet companies become media empires.

Journalists call themselves “hacks,” someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code.

Hacker-journalists try and bridge the two worlds. Hacks/Hackers Africa aims to bring all these people together — those who are working to help people make sense of our world. It’s for hackers exploring technologies to filter and visualize information, and for journalists who use technology to find and tell stories. In the age of information overload and collapse of traditional business models for legacy media, their work has become even more crucial.

Code for Africa, is the continent’s largest #OpenData and civic technology initiative, recognises this and is spearheading the establishment of a network of HacksHackers chapters across Africa to help bring together pioneers for collaborative projects and new ventures.

Follow Hacks/Hackers Africa on Twitter and Facebook today.