African Digital journalist projects get US$1M funding

As part of the African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC), 20 digital journalism projects have earned US$1 million funding and technical support, expected to encourage development of business, distribution and workplace solutions.

The winners were selected after a jury of 15 international media strategists, technology innovators and funding experts evaluated more than 500 project plans before selecting winners from a shortlist of 40 projects.

The winners were later announced by ANIC manager Justin Arenstein in Kigali, Rwanda, on November 28, at the African Editors’ Forum annual general meeting.

“Africa’s media face serious challenges, and each of our winners tries to solve a real-world problem that journalists are grappling with. This includes the public’s growing concern about the manipulation and accuracy of online content, plus concerns around the security of communications and of whistleblowers or journalistic sources,” said Arenstein.

Speaking at the same event, African Media Initiative’s (AMI’s) chief executive Amadou Mahtar Ba said: “Finding and supporting great ideas for improving news reporting was just one of our aims. A second equally important objective was to kickstart a pan-African community of news innovators and journalism technologists.

Winning projects will receive cash grants ranging from US$10,000 to US$100,000, plus additional technology support from a team of four full-time developers at African Media Initiative (AMI) Accelerator lab in Kenya. They will further benefit from business development support from some of the world’s top media strategists affiliated with the World.

Grants will be paid in tranches, as projects deliver on agreed milestones in their implementation plans. The first grants are expected to be paid across in late January 2013, with the first working prototypes expected to be tested in AMI newsrooms by May 2013.

Ten of the winners will also be flown to the Knight Foundation’s annual M.I.T. Civic Media Conference in the US, while the rest will be showcased at other important industry events.

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