Kenyan journalist Wycliffe Masinde knew that the girls in his home county Turkana were getting shortchanged on education. Only one third of school-aged girls attend school. In 2003, 20 girls enrolled in the newly established Longech free primary school. By 2010, only four were left to sit for graduation exams.
"Most parents prefer taking a boy to school than a girl because they believe the female will eventually be married off," says Maximila Ekamais, a Standard Six pupil at the school, quoted in Masinde’s article in Kenya’s The Standard newspaper.
Masinde wanted to report on the story but he wanted to get hard data about the situation to back up his reporting. A travel grant and data mining training from Internews helped Masinde with this goal. He was able to access data online to find out school attendance rates and other information.
Internews in Kenya is partnering with the Population Reference Bureau, the World Bank Institute, and others to explore practical ways for the media to tap into the government’s pioneering Kenyan Open Data Initiative (KODI) as well as pilot practical projects in newsrooms that seek to improve the quality of reportage and citizen engagement in public discourse.
Internews offers data journalism training, helping journalists discover altogether new stories, made easy by online tools which scrape websites, share and interpret data and then visualize the trends which the data reveal.
Internews Country Director, Ida Jooste, says the best journalism has always been evidence-based, but new open data sets posted online open opportunities for many new fact and data driven stories. “It used to be only journalists with time, resources and a real knack for figures who could properly translate statistics and trend figures into stories we can relate to, but now it is a completely new game – the data is accessible to anyone who is willing to learn how to read and interpret it.”