By on June 17, 2015
The Code for Ghana team is currently working tirelessly to bring innovations to Ghanaian newsrooms. The idea is to help journalists develop a keen interest in data-journalism and learn how to gather, refine and visualize data in order to tell interesting stories that will touch a nerve and generate citizen engagement.
To achieve this goal, it will take much more than merely producing countless data visualizations. The Code for Ghana team would not have to do all the work and expect to establish the culture of data-journalism in our newsrooms. Therefore, as part of the ongoing Code for Ghana project, data fellows have been tasked to take journalists through an intensive data-journalism training. This is aimed at sensitizing journalist about the need to fuse data visualisation into their news reportage and also equip them with the necessary skills to do so themselves - even long after the project is over. We believe this is a massive contribution towards transforming the culture in our newsrooms into one that is data-savvy.
Already we have embedded two data fellows into two media houses: Ghana News Agency and Graphic Communications Company Limited.
At Ghana News Agency, a total of thirty journalists are undergoing data journalism training. The data fellow took some members of staff through the introductory part of open data, data visualisations tools and examples.
The trainees seemed very knowledgeable about what data-journalism was by definition. What was lacking was practical knowledge and experience in data-journalism. The training was very illustrative and practical; he made reference to current issues that the trainees could relate to. He spoke largely on what he termed ‘the 3 Vs of data’: Volumes of data (quantity), Variety of data and Velocity of data (speed). These are in reference to how data is produced all around us. This was mentioned to draw the attention of the trainees to the fact that there is a huge chunk of data waiting to be refined, processed and visualized to add value to news stories.
At Graphic Communications Company Limited, the journalists were being trained in a data analysis language called R. The facilitator ran them through a few of the procedures and steps in operating the R Programming language. Some topics he touched on during the recap included Calculating Variance and Indices.
The day’s lesson began with a look into the process of creating logical Vectors by conditions. Nana Baah Gyan ran the trainees through the entire process and asked them to try their hands at it at every level. This made the whole session very interactive.
Very soon these journalists will be skilled enough to churn out various data visualization stories to complement their news reportage. We all look forward to that, but for now, we will keep training them till they acquire the needed skills.