Use data for credibility


 Data journalism and multimedia tools boost your stories

Why would any self-respecting journalist need to learn how to cover elections? Surely it’s common sense. Not really, writes course leader GRAEME ADDISON.

Obviously, election reporting should be fair, accurate, not take sides, deal with the issues, watch for evidence of vote tampering, and cover the results objectively. What more could the public ask of the media?

Well, a lot. And with the data journalism tools now available, election reporting can be deepened and made a lot more informative for the average voter. It’s not about statistics and dry charts. It’s really about conveying the essence of each election fight simply, visually and with direct relevance to voter issues in each ward.

Angry protests over the provision of services in health, sanitation, policing, housing, education, roads and much more have shown that citizens are not happy with the way they are being governed.


Original photo: TimesLive

South Africans today face the most challenging municipal elections in the history of this young democracy. Unlike the Parliamentary elections, where there Continue reading

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‘Politainment’ as election coverage

If the US Presidential primaries are anything to go by, elections are great entertainment. Donald Trump has the world gasping at his arrogance, contradictions and hairstyle. Hillary Clinton bustles on like a granny intent on organising her household. Bernie Sanders gruffly pushes the line that not to elect him could be a disaster for the Democrats.

trump hillary and billWell, I guess if Hillary is indicted for breaching national security with her home emails, it will be a disaster. If the FBI doesn’t get her first the Republicans surely will try to impeach her if she becomes President.

These characters on the political stage become one-dimensional cartoons of themselves as the media try to reveal their strengths and weaknesses but only succeed in boosting their showmanship. Policy issues go hang. Here’s a new word: Politainment.

municipal elections 2016But my concerns lie closer to home. South Africans may soon go to the polls to elect new local councils at municipal level. I say they “may” because, while the date of 3 August has been set down by President Jacob Zuma, the Constitutional Court has yet to rule on whether the election can take place.

A minor trifle that millions in the electorate have no recorded home addresses (which opens the way for fraud and bussing-in) has the ConCourt tied in knots. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng doesn’t want to disenfranchise these millions or Continue reading

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How’s your app strategy?

dilbert how to succeed bdayYou can build a mobile app yourself, but beware – the devil is not in the detail, it’s in the overall concept. Graeme Addison explains DIY apping.

An amusing Dilbert cartoon in Business Day says it all: Stop doing what you’re doing because it isn’t working! I’m not suggesting that mobile apps – or for that matter websites – are a waste of time. Far from it. But unless you have a clear, integrated strategy for pulling in users you may be spending more time and money than it’s all worth.

At the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg I’ve just led a 3-day workshop on DIY App creation. If you want to do it yourself, the main question is how – what buttons to push – but this is really not the question you should be asking. It’s actually quite easy to sign up on one of the many online DIY app builders and get the technical job done.

These cloud-based services may cost you anything from $3 to $750 per month or more, but they are specifically designed to make apping easy. It’s Apps for Dummies, or the Idiot’s Guide to Going Mobile with your idea. One of the first such services to be successful was Infinite Monkeys, ainfinite monkeys logon ironic name chosen because the theory goes that an infinite number of monkeys given enough time and keyboards with word-processors could produce the works of Shakespeare. (They since changed this name to Appmakr, possibly because it was an insult to their users!)

You are probably no monkey but you may be an idiot when it comes to computer coding. At a loss, anxious, befuddled and wanting to make a good splash but not knowing how, you opt for one of the easy client management systems and hope it will do the job for you.
It won’t. It can’t conceptualise what you want, and Continue reading

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