By Chimezie Godfrey
As the application process for the RCDIJ Data Journalism Masterclass 2022 comes to a close, successful applicants from across Africa and beyond are preparing to participate in what is expected to be what the organizers describe as their “farthest-reaching and most inclusive” masterclass to date, by candidate profile and geographical spread. The event is slated for November 30 in Lagos.
The focus area for this year’s masterclass is “Climate and Environment-focused Solutions Journalism: Appraising Interventions through Geo-Journalism Tools”. The goal is to help journalists develop capacity for reporting on and objectively evaluating interventions around climate change and the environment.
The organizers— Ripples Centre for Data and InvestigativeJournalism (RCDIJ)— in a statement released on Thursday, said the event would be both in-person and virtual, freely accessible to hundreds of successful applicants from across multiple African countries and beyond.
They revealed that this year’s resource partners included Google, Climate Home News and Code for Africa. Representative resource persons include Ken Kiunga, Google News Lab Teaching Fellow; Sebastián Rodríguez, Special Projects Editor, Climate Home News, and Freda Victor, Data Analyst and Community Coordinator for WanaData and HacksHackers at Code for Africa.
The event’s media supporters include Ripples Nigeria, Eco-Nai+, Naija News, NaijaBlog Gist, and Naija News Now. The event is supported by Dangote Group, Jet Motor Company, and Ziuss Energy & Power.
Speaking on the masterclass, Mr Sam Ibemere, the Executive Director of RCDIJ, described it as a “timely and impactful medium to help African journalists develop the capacity to solve some of the biggest issues of our time”.
He noted that the far-reaching international interest in this year’s masterclass was a clear demonstration of the growth and impact of RCDIJ, evidenced by years of strategic intervention in the African media ecosystem through successful programmes, especially its data journalism masterclass.
Reacting to this year’s application process, Chinedu Chidi, the centre’s Programme Director, said the volume of applications shattered previous records several times over. He added that in spite of the volume, “painstaking effort was taken to ensure that selected applicants met the set criteria for the masterclass”. “Inclusion and diversity were an essential consideration in the mix of selected participants”, he noted.
Participants in this year’s masterclass will receive free 6 months subscription on the Eco-Nai+ geo-journalism tools platform, the organizers revealed. Eco-Nai+ is Nigeria’s first dedicated digital geo-journalism platform created by Ripples Nigeria. It was one of the successful ideas in the Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for Africa, Turkey and the Middle East in 2021.
On the support of Ripples Nigeria and other media platforms for the masterclass, Edirin Etaghene, Editor of Ripples Nigeria, stated that coordinated media coverage was essential to the success of such a significant endeavour, noting that “we must continue to promote impactful initiatives within the media ecosystem, ensuring that opportunities for growth and capacity development are not missed by journalists and media houses”.
On his expectations for the masterclass, Dare Adekoya, Ripples Nigeria’s Digital Marketing Lead, said “advanced learning, meaningful interaction, expanded network, and multi-dimensional impact”.