On Saturday 6th March 2021, the eleventh Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising hundreds of events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme.
Our event celebrated open data by conducting a free physical data journalism training to 10 journalism and mass communication students from different universities in Dar es Salaam to maximise the use of open data and increase accountability through data journalism.
The eight-hour training trained the students the basics in data journalism by explaining in detail the concept of open data, how to scrap and clean data to create open data, laws regulating data journalism in Tanzania, data analysis, data visualisation and how to develop data-driven stories from open data for radio, TV, newspapers and online platforms.
The training was a unique opportunity to the students since they got a chance to learn and practise new skills that can make them competitive in the current job market after finishing their studies.
Conducting such training with students was a stepping stone to creating better journalists who can add value in their reporting and producing content that can impact lives in future.
The training to journalism & mass comm students from various universities in Dar es Salaam on how to use open data to develop impactful stories is ongoing. They already learnt the concept of open data, how to scrap and clean data and laws regulating data journalism in Tanzania pic.twitter.com/31lAmdbR3I— Nukta Africa (@NuktaAfrica) March 6, 2021
One of the foremost lessons learnt from the students is that data journalism is not taught completely in colleges or universities offering journalism or mass communication courses in Tanzania. Nearly all the lessons were new to the students and they acknowledged that the opportunity gave them exposure and the skills were key in building their careers after school.
At Nukta Africa we learnt that there are useful open data dashboards by the government and other stakeholders which are not commonly used and known to most people. Also, former famous open data dashboards like opendata.go.tz are no longer available to the public. Therefore, conducting these training makes people aware and informed on data that could help them in business, reporting and decision making.
Furthermore, emphasis on maximising the use of open data in the community through data journalism is one the best way to utilise the resources available. Open data dashboards may not yield expected results if journalists cannot use the data to find stories relevant to their community. Data-driven stories with contexts from ground reporting has proved to be more effective in increasing transparency and by accounting people in power.
We love Open Data Day because, as data experts or data journalists, we get an opportunity to celebrate and push for the greater use of open data in our community in creating impactful stories or insights that will help people make informed decisions.