Did you know that data-driven journalism is not reserved for those with data science, mathematics, or journalism degrees? Patricia Andago is a social, consumer, and market researcher at Odipodev - a research organisation based in Kenya, and an Africa Data Hub (ADH) partner. She is also a freelance data journalist and data journalism trainer. She has conducted data journalism training for journalists Kenya and beyond in the following programmes:
- Africa Uncensored’s Investigate 101 training,
- Aga Khan University’s mobile video journalism fellowship,
- Africa Resilience Network Training program,
- Data literacy training under Internews’ PROTECT programme,
- MHC’s Data journalism in Africa Masterclasses,
- Strathmore’s data journalism programme
- Africa Data Hub’s Data journalism fellowship (ongoing).
Patricia’s work as a data journalist may leave you surprised to find that her background is in finance and accounting.
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We sat down with her to find out what inspired her to venture into data journalism, as well as where and how she finds her stories. “I identify as a researcher, even my work in journalism [is] a way for me to show the findings [and] insights that I've gotten from research in a different format. That's actually how I ended up like in the journalism world, I was trying to show some data collected in an interesting story”.
Finding creative ways of making sure your research findings are accessible
With Patricia’s background in accounting and finance it seems fitting that her first journalism piece was on the culture of corruption in Kenya. The research and data that she used to backup the story were not intended for a data story from the onset. “My first piece was actually on corruption. This [story] was a bit of a mix, a bit of social research, quantitative and qualitative data, and mostly storytelling… I was talking about the problem with the culture of corruption in Kenya. Yeah, that was definitely my first data journalism piece… My first piece as a researcher/journalist”
Patricia holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in accounting and finance. When we asked her which fields of research she focuses on, she responded with “with research… I don't limit myself”. Since her first piece she has worked on gender, heath, climate and social justice related stories and datasets.
Research and the related datasets can be the foundation for your data journalism
We wanted to know what some of the benefits of walking the research and data journalism tightrope are, she responded with: “The beauty about working for our research company is, we are always collecting data, or trying to [find] partners who have data''. From Patricia’s experience with data journalism, we learnt that collaboration with organisations or individuals that believe in open data or sharing data allows all parties involved to find shared value in the datasets or the data pipeline.
“The beauty about working for our research company is, we are always collecting data, or trying to [find] partners who have data
Particia directed us to research she was a part of in the period 2018 to 2019, which was focused on the Kenyan influencer market and its practices as an example of the approach that Odipo Dev uses when it comes to using and sharing datasets. From the year-long study that the Odipo Dev team did on online influencers, they have developed the KingMaker intelligent tool, which aids marketers and advertising stakeholders in selecting, engaging and measuring ROI from their influencer campaigns. The research also formed the basis and amendment of the the Top 20 KingMaker Top 20 celebrities and influencers are ranked as well as a series of data stories on Kenyan influencer, celebrity following and engagement and online influencer marketing. Odipo Dev now conducts frequent digital intelligence studies for brands.
Where applicable, Patricia uses gender as a starting point to interrogating data
How is Patricia able to translate market related data and use them as the foundations of a data story? Where data is disaggregated by gender or sex, she says it can reveal interesting insights and raise questions about the market or field of investigation. “One of the first things that I investigate when I'm looking at a particular storyline is if there is a gender dynamic to it… I always find myself trying to investigate [the data] we're [using] from the women's side of the story and the men's side as well.”
“One of the first things that I investigate when I'm looking at a particular storyline is if there is a gender dynamic to it… I always find myself trying to investigate [the data] we're [using] from the women's side of the story and the men's side as well.”
An example of an insightful data driven story that uses gender as the first point of investigation is Patrica’s data story that delves into the appetite for news consumption and creation in Kenya culture. Although this story was reported from a gendered lens, Patrica says their team initially “put out a survey to find out how often are people finding themselves actively avoiding the news? How many people are actually paying for news?” The survey results revealed an “interesting dynamic when you look at it from a gendered lens, that there was a huge difference between the male audience and that's how the story ended up shifting to talk about the female.”
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