New report: Data journalism in Tanzania

Open Knowledge International and the School of Data are excited to announce the publication of a new research report into the state of data journalism in Tanzania.

Data-driven journalism is an important and disruptive change in contemporary journalism practice. It is not a panacea solution to the fake news era, but it is a piece of the equation in achieving accurate, balanced, and critical reporting. The pathway to growing and optimising data journalism is imperfect, but over time, as media pushes its horizons, the field will grow cohesively. Especially in Tanzania, the efforts of trainers and advocates are integral to its lasting relevance and for pushing the limits of journalism in increasingly difficult circumstances.

This report was prepared by Open Knowledge International and the School of Data for the World Bank in support of the Open Data and Accountability in Tanzania (SOGDAT) Programme funded by the UK Department for International Development.

Key findings include the following:

  • Incentives to adopt data journalism matter, and opportunity costs need to be balanced carefully
  • It is key to manage expectations about the goals data journalism can achieve for media companies as well as society at large
  • Data trainings must be catered towards the work routines and needs of journalists, and should take into account how different media business models may support their uptake
  • Legal, political and social contexts influence journalism practice, the nature of reporting and the use of official figures to support media claims

The report uses semi-structured and unstructured in-depth interviews with media development experts and experienced trainers operating inside and outside Tanzania. It draws on interviews with reporters and editors from a cross-section of media houses: FM stations, print and online newspapers and TV stations produced in both Swahili and English languages.

Our research was part of a wider programme of engagement with data users in Tanzania which saw the School of Data creating a local government data curriculum and providing training to stakeholders in the Tanzanian capital, Dodoma. Separately the Open Knowledge International product team built a data collection and data cleaning workflow aimed at improving the quality of geolocation data on schools in Tanzania.

For further details and findings including recommendations for data trainers operating in Tanzania, download the full report.