African News Innovation Challenge To Transform The Continent

Over history, mass media has been disseminated in various ways like the old letter in the bottle, using pigeons, to the stages of technological advances, and then came the internet. With the internet came the evolution of media to what is known today as the new media.

We have now realized the powers to which the alternative forms of disseminating information has, it started with the revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya as well as the ongoing war in Syria.

Al Jazeera, the international news network carved out a program called The Stream as the network noticed how new media is shaping the world. Centers of learning are not left out, now we have courses in tertiary intuition titled internet and journalism, new media and the future of journalism etc.

The African News Innovation Challenge is an initiative created to spur innovation in African journalism in a bid to strengthen and transform African news media in this digital age. It is important to note that you can not isolate the internet from the life of the average African journalist, it is almost as important as pen and paper or the Ipad or the blackberry.This innovation challenge focuses on journalism and the news media. It is Africa’s first major contest designed to promote the development of digital media products and innovations.

The contest is looking for disruptive digital ideas for improving the way that news is collected and disseminated. By digital ideas, meaning tools or strategies that use the Internet, mobile platforms, data driven journalism, computer assisted reporting, digitally augmented reality, or other electronic means to improve the relevance and impact of news media.

The ideas should be focused on providing pragmatic solutions to real-world challenges facing Africa’s media. The grants to be given out ranges from $12,000 to $100,000 for these categories – news gathering, storytelling, audience engagement and business of news. The proposals can include ideas on investigative journalism, crowdsourced citizen reporting (crowdsourcing seems to be a part of our daily lives)or alternative ways to isolate media from advertising. I am of the belief that no media is truly independent as long as it needs advertising revenue to survive.

Winners of the grants also get technical, business development and marketing advice. Entries must be submitted by midnight CAT July 10, 2012. Running the challenge are the African media initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, US state department, Omidyar network and a host of others.

Entries will be judged by an international jury and finalists will have an opportunity to refine their proposals during a Tech camp, the OpenNews Camp in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in August for one-on-one workshop sessions with business development mentors and other industry experts. Finalists will use these sessions to also develop implementation plans and budgets ahead of final judging.

The winners will be picked at The African Media leaders forum in Ivory coast in November 2012. Winners may also be offered opportunities to pilot their projects in AMI member newsrooms and showcase the results at international conferences or to venture capital funds, so get cracking, for more information visit the website.


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