40 finalists emerge in $1m African News Innovation Challenge

Posted: October 1, 2012 in general

Forty pioneering digital journalism projects have been shortlisted as finalists in the inaugural $1 million African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC).

The initiative is the largest fund for digital journalism experimentation in Africa, and is designed to spur solutions to the business, distribution and workplace challenges that face the media industry.

In all, 513 applicants were carefully screened by a technical review panel that evaluated which projects have the best potential for strengthening and transforming African news media.

Projects were also assessed for their potential to be replicated by media elsewhere in Africa, or to be scaled up across the continent, to create wide and sustained impact.

“We are thrilled with the broad range of innovation and ideas among the finalists,” says ANIC manager, Justin Arenstein. Arenstein is a Knight International Journalism Fellow, who leads the initiative as part of a wider digital innovation program with Africa’s largest association of media owners and operators, the African Media Initiative (AMI). “The teams with the strongest links to newsrooms and technology partners had an advantage, as did those that could already point to some proofs-of-concept.”

Short-listed finalists include proposals to improve data-driven investigative journalism and the security of journalists or their sources, as well as improve audience engagement, mobile news distribution, data visualization, new revenue models and workflow systems.

“The finalists are also all projects that haven’t lost sight of the core focus for the initiative: quality journalism,” says Arenstein. “There is a danger in any innovation program that we get blinded by gadgets and hype. The technical review panel therefore focused on projects that demonstrated a keen commitment to journalism itself.”

Finalists will attend a TechCamp in Zanzibar, in partnership with the Tech@State program. There they will have the opportunity to refine and defend their proposals in consultation with some of the world’s leading media technology strategists, including experts from the U.K. Guardian’s data team, Mozilla’s OpenNews initiative, Google, previous Knight News Challenge winners, and the World Association of Newspapers.

A separate jury of international media strategists, technology innovators, and funding experts will evaluate the revised project plans and will select an estimated 20 winners. They will be announced at the continent’s largest annual gathering of media executives, the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), in Dakar, Senegal, on November 10.

Winners will receive cash grants ranging from $12,500 to $100,000, as well as additional technology and business development support. They will also have access to a dedicated AMI CivicTech code lab, for technical advice, start-up support and one-on-one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

ANIC’s founding partners include Omidyar Network, Google, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the U.S. State Department, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Applicants were encouraged to enter their submissions in the “open” public category, so that they could receive public comments and reviews. The technical review panel and the international jury give preference to applications in this category. A “closed” category was provided for projects with proprietary trade or technology secrets.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.