Data visualisation or Data narration? Data in Radio Stories

January 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

For an outsider looking at Nigeria’s news media lately, it would seem that the only things in the mind of Nigerians are politics or security-related. Breaking news are aplenty while more involved stories, either investigative or reporting on community issues, are scarce.

This is a problem, but what can we do about it? Development Watch, an initiative by Journalist for Social Development Initiative, hopes to solve this problem. They have plans for a different kind of journalism, providing objective analysis of social development issues and promoting inclusive growth across Africa. And to live up to their goal of creating quality journalism, they decided to facilitate a data journalism session on November 30, 2015, at the occasion of the launch of the main part of their web platform.

Data Journalism AbujaMore than 20 journalists were present: 15 from the broadcast, 5 from the print and the others from the new media. Beyond Google Alerts, most of them had little knowledge of the useful tools for digital journalism, and even less about where to find available data in Nigeria. This was expected: we hear this from 80% of the participants to datajournalism trainings. Luckily, the point of those trainings is to familiarize them with the available tools and sources.

“To find data for my reports, I only depend on references from other works, or request a meeting with concerned organizations, as I do not know where to go to, I find this difficult for my work”  said Sam Adeko of Punch Newspapers.

 According to a recent poll by NOI Polls, a polling organisation in Nigeria, most people in the country access daily news via the radio (67%), followed by television, social media and newsprint. With this information in mind, we try to tailor our datajournalism trainings to take into account stories for radio and television, in addition to the use of tools like, essentially useful for print and social media.

But before talking about visualising data, we had to cover some basic techniques. In this training, as is the case in many other ones, 90% of the participants used Google search to look up information, but few of them really knew how to search effectively. For example, you can search for specific content on a website by adding ‘’ to your search phrase, which will prompt Google to only return results from the site you’ve specified. You can even narrow it down further by using ‘’, and you’ll only see results that match that pattern.

Another useful tool that was introduced was Google Trends, which allow to find which search terms are trending on Google. “I really want to know how much people are interested in President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria compared to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Especially in recent times, this can give me an insight on how important Nigeria is over Rwanda” explained Roluke Ogundele of the Africa Independent Television. All you need do is to enter a couple of common search phrases and you will get how this has been trending over time. We also talked about Twitter, a micro-blogging service that is becoming more widely used in Nigeria. To discover public conversations about a link, you just paste the URL you’re interested in into the search box, and then possibly hit ‘more tweets’ to see the full set of results.

When the datavisualisation session eventually came, we asked the question of whether to visualize or not, and how. Tools like Google Fusion Tables, Tableau, Dipity and others make it easier than ever to create maps, charts, graphs useful for newsprint, social media, and television. But what happens when you broadcast on the radio? Because people only listen, the need of getting a story out of the data, rather than just a visualisation, is more obvious. Stories can be told in a captivating way on radio, and they can come from data. “So if you are a broadcast journalist in the radio – you have no excuse, dive in by looking at the problem you want to solve first, via the radio (also works for other media), then find and get the data, and tell your story to the world” said Gloria Ogbaki of Ray Power FM

In Nigeria, data journalism is nascent, and opportunities abound. As more new journalists get into the field, thinking of which sector to dive into, there is a need for newsrooms to innovate by, for example, embedding data analysts and Information technology experts with producers of news.

As you can see, most of us never knew what data journalism is, but at the end of this training, we were all excited, and can now go back to incorporate this into our work. We hope this is not a one -time training, we need more of it in our newsrooms” said Okoye Ginka of the News Agency of Nigeria


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