Africa is changing fast, and the news industry with it

Africa is changing, said Amadou Mhatar Ba, CEO of the African Media Initiative, at the Around the World Session at the World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok. The average GDP has increased from about $400 at around the turn of the century to more than $1000 now, and the middle class is starting to grow.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | June 3, 2013

75% of Africa’s population is under 25, but life expectancy is 60, up from 40 not so long ago. Enrollment in schools is also at an all-time high.

These factors are critically important and can impact the news industry, Mhatar Ba said. News is also changing fast. The African Media Initiative tries to lower the risk of experimentation, he explained, by initiatives such as embedding developers and coders in news organisations.

He identified several encouraging trends in journalism:

  • A growth in open data and in data journalism that uses this
  • Verification of user generated content and citizen reportage. Now that everybody has a phone, and subsequently a voice, it’s important to find ways to use this effectively.
  • Civic engagement and mobilisation. He pointed to the example of which helped Kenyans find out where to vote in recent elections.

“What we are trying to build is this culture where we can really make a difference,” Mhatar Ba said, mentioning Hacks/Hackers which is active in Africa and cultivates an innovative, creative community of journalists and developers.

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