Acting NAN MD advocates use of data visualisation in journalism

Acting Managing Director (MD) of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Ibrahim Mammaga has called on journalists in the country to use data visualisation tools to improve their reportage.

Mammaga made the call on Wednesday, in Abuja, at training on Data Journalism, organised for reporters and editors of NAN by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with Code for Africa, an NGO.

The acting MD said the training would improve the agency’s ability to use data and statistics for better understanding of important and trending issues in the country.

“Data training is important for journalists on every beat from finance to health, agriculture, sports and so on.

“The fact remains that people do not have the patience to read long stories anymore. People want facts given to them in the shortest way possible.

“Data visualisation summarises stories in a graphic form, making it more interesting for people to read and that is the area I want NAN reporters to explore,” he said.

He appealed to NBS and Code for Africa to extend the gesture to the agency’s reporters in states and zonal offices so that more could benefit from the training.

Mammaga then advised the trainees to use the knowledge acquired from the training in writing stories that were rich in data visualisation to attract more readership and usage of NAN stories.

Ms Andidiong Okon, the Nigerian Project Manager, Code for Africa, said that the training was aimed at helping journalists to understand data and statistics so they could pass accurate information to citizens.

“I think every journalist should see data journalism as a way of making story-telling easier, more interesting and backed with facts.

“So, journalists need to get comfortable with the idea of using data in their stories and the NBS is the most reliable data source in the country,” Okon said.

She disclosed that NAN was chosen for the training because of its wide reach and the relationship it has with other newsrooms who subscribe to the agency.

“We feel that training NAN will create ripple effect to other media and once they see how its reportage has improved, they can learn more and possibly get training support from the agency,” she said.

Meanwhile, one of the trainees, Mr Eric Ochigbo, said his job as a Parliamentary Reporter had been made easy, as legislative data would now be simple to understand using graphics.

“Data journalism is a new frontier of reportage, and as a parliamentary reporter, if I must remain relevant; I really need to know how to use these tools.

“Data visualisation brings clarity and makes it easier for me to explain to my audience the activities of the National Assembly,” Ochigbo said.

NAN is a beneficiary of StoryLab Academy, an initiative of the World Bank, Google News Lab and Code for Africa.

The aim is to develop digital reporting skills in newsrooms across 12 major African cities.

The cities are Abuja, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Freetown and three South African cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Others are Kampala Lagos (Nigeria) Nairobi and Yaoundé. (NAN)

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