By Kemi Oladipo
Mr John Eromosele, a data analyst with Code for Africa, on Wednesday said it was important for journalists to improve the content and credibility of their reports by using data.
Eromosele and other experts made the call at a training programme organised by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Code for Africa at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Media Centre, on Wednesday in Lagos.
Eromosele said the training programme with the theme: “Using Official Statistics for Storytelling in Nigeria,” was imperative for present day journalists to be conversant with modern trends in data journalism.
He said the NBS and Code for Africa partnered to improve the skills of NAN journalists to use data to tell and illustrate stories better for wider and enhanced audience engagement.
He also said the essence of the training was to equip the participants with the dynamics of navigating and getting reliable data from the NBS portal.
“Journalists should be able to create accurate and detailed storytelling with data.
“Today, we were able to explore resources such as how to illustrate data and utilise goggle map to tell the story better.
“We are also creating new scales on how we can optimise the resources on the NBS portal to tell better stories using data.
“This training was organised to see how we can synergise our work and optimise the use of official data statistics in Nigeria,” Eromosele said.
A Programme Analyst with NBS, Mr Lucky Ogidan, said data was very important because it identified societal problems that needed attention.
According to him, the NBS designs programmes and uses appropriate actions to eradicate problems, and also provides the basis for monitoring programme implementation.
“Data production life-cycle in NBS requires planning, processing, archiving, pilot testing, production and final determination of instrument.
“In the field of statistics, data production involves multi-stage processes; each stage is so important to successful production of reliable data that will reflect the current situation,” he said.
Ogidan said the aim of the training was to optimise the NBS portal to tell data stories because people needed to understand the use of data before applying it in their stories.
“Data is a collected fact, answer to a question and structured data is organised in tabular format as either qualitative or quantitative.
“Statistics is the science of collecting, organising and analysing numerical data in large quantities.
“Journalists need to use more of data and statistics in telling their stories because data is used to identify societal problems that need attention in the country.
“One of our goals is to turn data into information and information into insight. We serve the government, the economy and the public with data about the socioeconomic,demographic and environmental situations,” he said.
Mr Salif Atojoko, General Manager, NAN Bizcom, a subsidiary of NAN, said the training would help journalists to enhance their stories by illustrating them with data.
According to Atojoko, using data, either icons, graphs or pictures with stories, will make people to understand the stories easily and better.
“NBS is the main supplier of statistics on health, economy, education and so on, but many people cannot access their portal.
“This training will really help journalists to enhance their capacity and ability to get statistics from NBS.
“Code for Africa has been training NAN journalists for a while now and NBS partnered with them to facilitate this training so they can create a synergy with journalists and fast track access to their portal,” Atojoko said.
Mrs Vivian Ihechu, an Editor and the Head, Data and Investigation Desk, NAN Lagos, commended NBS and Code fir Africa for organising the training.
According to her, traditional or conventional journalism has expanded to data and digital journalism, which help to drive policies on health, population, economy, security and arts.
“Data gives a deeper insight on issues at hand. At a glance, one knows the indices and the status quo.
“It helps to track government policies, spendings and promises as well as improve access to government services.
“With data from reliable sources like the NBS, there is credibility in a story,” she said.
Ihechu assured that the trained NAN journalists would put to good use the knowledge acquired.
One of the participants, Mrs Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma, said the knowledge from the training was priceless, especially with the sessions on finding, cleaning and exporting data as well as visualisation with the data generated.