The twenty journalists have been shortlisted as finalists in the $1 million African Story Challenge, a programme encouraging innovative, multi-media storytelling that aims to improve the health and prosperity of Africans.
Apart from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the programme also has support from the African Development Bank and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).
According to Story Challenge director Joseph Warungu, “We are thrilled that we received so many fine ideas from journalists who want to tackle agriculture and food-related issues critical to their communities and the continent.”
The 20 finalists will attend a Story Camp in Naivasha, Kenya in August to refine their ideas and learn digital and data journalism tools to improve their work and engage the public before an international panel of editors and media experts picks the competition winners.
In addition to the 20 finalists, 35 journalists who were not shortlisted will receive smaller grants to assist them in completing their stories.
The two-year project encourages journalists to experiment with new content ideas and ways to engage audiences through mobile technology, social media and other innovative tools. It also aims to spur compelling, analytical, investigative and data-driven stories that lead to better policies, increase transparency and hold officials accountable.
In all, 315 entries from across the continent were screened by a technical review panel that evaluated which ideas have the best potential to become top-quality stories on agriculture and food security, the first of five themed categories covered by the challenge.
Other contest categories include disease prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, and business and technology.
The project will award approximately 100 major reporting grants and provide mentoring to support the best ideas for stories on development issues. Journalists who produce the best stories published or broadcast in media that reach African audiences will win cash prizes or a major international reporting trip.
The finalists are:
- Johanna Absalom, Freelance, Namibia
- Dayo Aiyetan, Daily Trust newspaper, Nigeria
- Jonathan Akweteireho, Freelance, Uganda
- Oluyinka Alawode, Business Day Media, Nigeria
- Mabvuto Banda, Weekend Nation, Malawi
- Joseph Burite, SMS Media, Uganda
- Alex Chamwada, Citizen TV, Kenya
- Elias Gebreselassie, newbusinessethiopia.com, Ethiopia
- Anthony Kamba, New Nation Newspaper, South Sudan
- Samuka Konneh, Liberia Media Center, Liberia
- Kouassi Selay Marius, Abidjan Live News, Ivory Coast
- Wisdom Mdzungairi, Newsday Daily Newspaper, Zimbabwe
- Mustapha El Mehdi, El Watan, Algeria
- Billy Muiruri, Nation Media Group, Kenya
- Comfort Mussa, Freelance, Cameroon
- Diana Neille, eNews Channel Africa, South Africa
- Mildred Odongo, Freelance, Kenya
- Bruno Sanogo, Freelance, Burkina Faso
- Paul Monde Shalala, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Zambia
- Nana Boakye Yiadom, Citi FM, Ghana