Sifelani Tsiko-Innovations Editor
The media in the SADC region has been urged to embrace data-driven journalism to provide readers with fact-based information that can give context and useful insights on important stories on possible threats and risks to food security such as droughts and cyclone-induced flooding.
Munetsi Madakufamba, executive director of Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) told a virtual workshop on data journalism that it was now important for the media in the region to utilise Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis data to tell meaningful and important stories.
“It is critical for us to strengthen the capacity of our media to be able to process such complex and technical data so that the most relevant and accurate information is channelled to the intended audiences,” he said.
“With the advent of technology, data-driven journalism is the future as journalists now need to tell a compelling story using digital means at their disposal.
“It is therefore important to equip our media with the right tools and skills so that journalists know how to find, analyse and visualise a story from what would otherwise be complex data.”
SARDC in a partnership with SADC organised a virtual workshop recently on data journalism under the theme: “How Media can use Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA) data in their work.”
The workshop sought to strengthen the media’s capacity for dissemination of information on various vulnerabilities and efforts being undertaken by SADC member states to cope and adapt to natural shocks.
“We strongly believe that data-savvy media play an important role in creating public dialogue on food and nutrition security issues, thus keeping the citizenry informed on the same,” Madakufamba said.
“This is particularly important in this age where information and data are available from multiple sources, some of which are “fake sources.”
Journalist Ranga Mberi said: “Data journalism helps us tell complex stories in simple formats.
“ It allows readers to see real places, and real people they can relate to. People share images more than text.
“Many just don’t read. Figures are often taken at face value. Data journalism puts them into context.”
Alex Banda, senior advisor at the Disaster Risk Management Unit of SADC regional grouping had a role to play in disseminating accurate information to various users and stakeholders using data-driven journalism.