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Nation journalists dominate data awards

Nation Media Group scooped three prizes at the inaugural Kenya Open Data Awards held Friday night.

The ceremony, which was organised by the Kenya Open Data Initiative at the Sarova Panafric Hotel, recognised people and institutions who have made an impact using open data, which is information that the government has made freely available to the public, via the website Opendata.go.ke.

Daily Nation journalists Verah Okeyo, Aggrey Omboki and Dave Opiyo won in the Media category, while Newsplex, Nation Media Group’s data project, won in the Innovation category.   

Ms Okeyo was honoured for her data story on HIV infection and abortion rates in western Kenya and the discussions on sex education that have arisen.

Aggrey Omboki and Dave Opiyo were honoured for their story which found that if the county government of Kisii chose to forego coffee, tea and lunch, the money would be enough to purchase up to five brand new dialysis machines.

Newsplex has written data driven stories throughout 2016.

A recent project, Deadly Force, found that the police in Kenya had killed at least 122 people from January to August 2016.

ICT Principal Secretary Victor Kyalo said the Open Data Initiative ensures citizens are well informed and participate well in governance.

“Data plays an important role in governance and it is important to work together to ensure we get accurate data which can be used in various ministries to deliver services to Kenyans,” he said.

One of the judges, Ms Catherine Gicheru, said the level of competition was good for the initial awards, but pointed out that journalists should be multi-skilled.

“The of competition was good, but we need journalists to start looking at how they can contextualize stories using data,” Ms Gicheru, who is the Country Lead, Code for Kenya and an ICFJ Knight Fellow, said.

“Anyone who is interested in the business of news needs to learn how to integrate data and technology to enhance our journalism.”

The amount of government data made available to the public is expected to increase after the Access to Information Act came into force on September 21 this year.

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