By; JEMIMAH SHUNA DOGO
Data journalism has emerged as a powerful tool in the field of journalism, allowing journalists to delve deeper into complex issues and present information in a compelling and accessible manner. However, in Nigeria, data journalism faces numerous challenges that hinder its full potential. This article aims to shed light on some of these challenges and explore potential solutions to enhance the practice of data journalism in the Nigerian context.
The first challenge is that of limited access to reliable data. The lack of credible and current data is one of the biggest problems data journalism in Nigeria is facing. Government institutions and agencies frequently lack transparency and may suppress information that would be of interest to the general public. Obtaining accurate and thorough data, which is essential for fact-checking and creating data-driven stories, is difficult for journalists. Without trustworthy information, journalists find it difficult to offer unbiased analysis and hold public officials accountable. To curb this challenge, it is important to promote open data laws. This can be achieved through advocacy and campaign. The government ought to take steps to encourage openness and give the general public and media easy access to data.
Secondly, lack of data literacy among journalists is a setback. A special skill set that combines conventional reporting with data analysis and visualization is needed for data journalism. To properly deal with data, however, many journalists in Nigeria lack the requisite data literacy abilities. Because of this knowledge gap, fewer journalists are able to use data-driven methodologies in their reporting, which leads to a dearth of data-driven stories. For this challenge to be tackled, training and capacity building are the answer. Media institutions, NGOs, and international organisations can work together to provide workshops, seminars, and online courses that give journalists the skills they need to properly gather, analyze, and visualize data
Another obstacle that hinders the practice of data journalism in Nigeria is a lack of adequate technological infrastructure which can be attributed to its financial implication. Stakeholders in media organisations often view investment in infrastructure as a longitudinal project hence a waste of time due to its expensive nature. For journalists using data, issues including limited internet connectivity, erratic power, and obsolete devices and software present serious difficulties. These challenges limit the potential for data-driven journalism in the nation by impeding data collection, analysis, and distribution. Overcoming this obstacle involves infrastructure development. Stakeholders in Nigeria’s media sector should give infrastructure improvements top priority. Collaborations between media outlets, IT firms, and governmental organisations can help find long-term solutions to these infrastructure problems and its financial implication.
Furthermore, security and safety issues obstruct the practice of data Journalism. When reporting on corruption and other pressing societal issues or conducting sensitive investigations, journalists in Nigeria frequently worry about their safety and security. These hazards can increase if one uses data journalism, which may involve disclosing untruths. Data journalism is discouraged by threats, intimidation, and attacks on journalists, which also restrict press freedom and the public’s right to information. Strengthening press freedom is key to ensure that journalists are able to work without fear of retaliation. It is important for government institutions, civil society organisations, and international organisations to collaborate.
Finally, lack of locally-bred Journalism models. Scholars are of the view that if journalism adheres to the Western model’s principles, it will be unable to fulfil its mandate to contribute to “new knowledge”. In this context, “new knowledge” may refer to the understanding of rules and traditions that are particular to each culture. A model that best fits regional circumstances is required. To conclude, data journalism holds immense potential for enhancing transparency, accountability, and public engagement in Nigeria.