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innovateAFRICA: a $1-million fund for enterprising newsrooms in Africa
Whether you accept it or not, journalism is changing fast in the modern age. Traditional media and even digitally focused newsrooms are facing a host of challenges, so what are writers and editors to do?
If you think your newsroom is innovative or has a unique solution to overcome these obstacles, you can apply for the US$1-million innovateAFRICA Fund, which aims to support digital innovations and “leapfrog technologies”.
The programme, which is open to both individuals and mainstream organisations, will deliver mentorship, seed funding and technology support to successful applicants, innovateAFRICA custodians Code for Africa announced in an emailed press statement.
“innovateAFRICA will provide grants from $12 500 to $100 000 for projects judged to have the best chance to strengthen and transform African news media. Grantees will also receive technical advice from civic technology laboratories across the continent, along with startup support and one-on-one mentoring from the world’s top media experts,” it added.
A strong media remains amongst the most effective ways for giving citizens both information and a voice
Proposals focusing on audience engagement, new digital news distribution models and new revenue models were of particular interest to organisers. However, proposals looking at journalism’s role as a civic watchdog were also high on the agenda.
“African media are experimenting with digital journalism, but the steadily worsening market situation facing mainstream media often has a chilling influence on the really big ideas. innovateAFRICA is meant to help newsrooms leapfrog obstacles, by giving the types of support that neither media companies nor traditional donors can provide themselves,” said Code for Africa director Justin Aranstein.
“Citizens need reliable and actionable information to make informed decisions. A strong media remains amongst the most effective ways for giving citizens both information and a voice, and we are therefore keen to help journalists be as digitally savvy as possible,” Aranstein continued.
In terms of digital innovation, the organisers were looking at proposals that use “internet, mobile platforms, data-driven journalism, computer-assisted reporting, digitally augmented reality or virtual reality, camera drones or the Internet of Things (sensors), and other electronic means
Want to enter?
Does this sound like something up your alley? Then you’ll want to enter via the innovateAFRICA website, starting on 1 September. Do note that entries close at midnight Central African Time on 1 December
“Proposals may be submitted by digital news pioneers from anywhere in the world, but entries must have an African media partner who will help co-develop and test the innovation and who will deploy the project for African audiences,” the organisers clarified.
Winners will be selected by an international panel of judges, comprised of “digital journalism and civic technology experts”. But first, there will be a public voting stage and shortlisting by technology and digital engagement experts.
Finalists are set to be announced on 20 December 2016 and winners will be revealed on 31 January 2017.
Featured image: innovateAFRICA Facebook page