14 May 2012

Africans launch digital news contest

The first competition for digital news innovation in Africa has just been launched and closes in July. Winners will be announced on 10 November 2012.

Winners get cash prizes of up to $100,000 plus business, technical and marketing support. Finalists will be invited to a camp in Tanzania in August for workshops with mentors and industry experts.

Proposals can be submitted by news pioneers anywhere in the world, though they must have an African media partner to help develop and test the innovation.

This innovation challenge focuses on journalism and the news media. The organizers are looking for disruptive digital ideas for improving the way that news is collected and disseminated. This includes tools or strategies that use the Internet, mobile platforms, data driven journalism, computer assisted reporting, digitally augmented reality, or other electronic means to improve the relevance and impact of news media. 

Winning ideas should be focused on providing pragmatic solutions to real challenges facing African media.

Innovations are being sought in four broad categories: news gathering; story telling; audience engagement; or the business of news. Within these categories, the judges will look for ideas with the following goals:
  1. Strengthen existing media platforms, or harness new digital platforms for engaging audiences and transmitting news other journalistic content.
  2. Improve the way news reaches audiences, from traditional circulation / airtime management to newer disruptive ‘cross platform’ channels.
  3. Amplify the relevance and usefulness of news by improving the immediacy, depth and accuracy of journalistic content.
  4. Enhance the impact and ‘shelf life’ of news by extending its influence and intrinsic value for both audiences and content services.
  5. Deepen media’s understanding of its audiences and markets by improving user analytics, audience profiling and market segmentation.
  6. Boost the media’s resource base by diversifying business models, developing new revenue streams or improving operational efficiencies.

Finalists will be invited to the OpenNews Camp in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in August for one-on-one workshop sessions with business development mentors and other industry experts. Finalists will use these sessions to refine and strengthen their proposals, as well as develop implementation plans and budgets ahead of final judging.

Winners will receive cash grants of between $12,000 and $100,000, plus additional business development support, technical mentorship, and marketing support. Winners may also be offered opportunities to pilot their projects in AMI member newsrooms and showcase the results at international conferences or to venture capital funds.

All entries have to be made on the competition website: http://africannewschallenge.org

The African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC), is a pan-African contest designed to support digital innovation and experimentation that improves the quality and impact of African journalism. It that aims to accelerate innovation in news organisations by funding transformational ideas and then continuing to support them through a network of peers and advisors. It encourages new digital tools and techniques for ‘making’ news, new ways for audiences to engage with news, and new models for media organisations to sustain themselves. The idea is that the contest will support new media experiments and digital news startups in data driven journalism and investigative reporting, newsroom management, audience engagement, digital convergence and media business models.
ANIC is modelled on the Knight News Challenge in the USA, customised to address the challenges facing African media.

ANIC is run by The African Media Initiative (AMI), the industry association that is Africa’s largest umbrella body of media owners and executives.  AMI’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media by building the tools, knowledge, and technical capacity for the media to play an effective  ‘public interest’ role in African society. This includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability, and civic engagement.  AMI believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.  

ANIC funds news experiments and digital media startups in order to help cover the costs of developing, testing and scaling a new digital news venture or product.

Good luck!