Kenyan media owners and open governance advocates resolved this week to urgently establish a national task force to promote data-driven journalism.
The industry-led task force will explore practical ways for the media to tap into the government’s pioneering Kenyan Open Data Initiative (KODI), as well as pilot practical projects in newsrooms that seek to improve the quality of reportage and citizen engagement in public discourse.
Chief executives and board directors of Kenya’s largest media groups made the call for an industry-wide drive to evaluate new digital journalism tools during a strategy roundtable jointly convened by the African Media Initiative (AMI) and World Bank Institute (WBI) at the Intercontinental Hotel, in the capital Nairobi, on Tuesday.
2011 was a successful year for Kenyans in at least one way. We succeeded in making steps towards being more open as the Government published a great deal of public development data (expenditure data, budgetary data, population data and much more) on the Kenya Open Data portal through what is widely now known as Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI).
Following this success, the focus this year is two fold:
- On the one hand we shall continue to work to institutionalize Open (by working with Parliament and the Cabinet to establish the legislative and policy framework that will ensure the continuos flow of data from within Government to the public domain – and building the capacity of the relevant offices to do so).
- We will also turn our focus to the demand side of data – working to establish user communities so that that data makes its way to helping Kenyans and others improve lives and livelihoods. This means that we shall be working with all our partners, who include media, civil society, government institutions, researchers and the academic communities to establish knowledge on how to use KODI for their purposes.
“The KODI initiative provides the foundation for a knowledge economy. It also gives you the material and the tools to be more scientific in your reporting on issues. Evidence-based analysis by the media is more likely to influence the manner in which [government] decisions are made and policies are orientated than purely speculative reporting. Data journalism therefore strengthens the media’s ability to focus its reportage on the real issues, instead of just the personalities.”
“Media invest massive amounts of money to create original content, and then only use the material once or twice before archiving it. Some media in Kenya have archives going back 100 years or more, including film, audio records and photographs of events that have shaped the nation, but very few media have the resources or in-house tech skills to extract fresh value from their content – especially in the current economic climate. The material is, however, a goldmine for external 3rd party developers and entrepreneurs who’d happily carry the cost and the risk to develop new digital platforms that use the content. They would then share any resulting revenue with the media.”