Code for Africa wants to help Jamaican journalism stay ahead of the times

Code for Africa Drone Camp in Zanzibar. Code for Africa incubates several other non-profits, including AfricanDRONE. An upcoming project will use drones to help monitor illegal dynamite fishing.

Warning: This is not fake news. You are about to read something positive about journalism in 2018.

SlashRoots Foundation and Code for Africa are working together to give local journalists new and exciting digital tools: enabling them to mine data for new stories; to tell those stories in new and visually exciting ways; to allow their audiences to interact; and not just to confront the problem but to provide a solution too.

Take this simple example: You might recall a recent storm on social media about a job AD that appeared locally for a domestic worker that offered a very low salary. As a solution, someone at the workshop suggested, we build an online calculator that would accommodate various factors such as travel, and help you pay your helper a decent living wage.

Well, OpenUp, a Code for Africa partner has already built that. And as a non-profit organization, Code for Africa want to make this and other tools available free of charge to local media organisations; together with training developed in conjunction with Google News Academy. SlashRoots is to kick off this process with a series of local meetups (date TBC).

Chris Roper

“Journalism is becoming increasingly networked and collaborative,” explains Code for Africa deputy Director Chris Roper, who was formerly Editor-in-Chief of the Mail & Guardian newspaper. He thinks that this can be even greater for us in the Caribbean, where language barriers are relatively lower than in his continent.

“Sweet spots can be journalists concentrating on certain industries — in several African countries Australian mining companies were not using the same safety standards they did in Australia. Newsrooms collaborated across borders and eventually even got a law passed in Australia because of that work. But that could have never happened had a newsroom worked in isolation.”

Can you think of any multinational players operating in the Caribbean that might have such a scandal lurking, but that one media house might not be big enough to go it alone? It’s possible.

Of course it’s not just making the world a better place why local media houses should want to adapt. In a time of falling relevance, decreased readership and revenue — they need to survive.

Code for Africa were in Kingston this week to participate as instructors with SlashRoots at an Open Data Literacy Bootcamp hosted by the World Bank. The second and final bootcamp starts next week in St Lucia. Follow SlashRoots for further updates.