The African Media Initiative has announced a competition designed to promote digital experimentation and innovation that strengthens news organizations on the continent.
Closely modeled on the Knight News Challenge, the African News Innovation Challenge will award seed grants ranging from $12,500 up to $100,000. In the first phase of the competition, African journalists and publishers will be asked to identify pressing issues facing their industry, followed by a call for applications in February 2012. Winners will be chosen through a competitive judging process, and projects will be showcased at international media gatherings. Grantees also will receive technical advice, startup support, and one-on-one mentoring from leading media experts.
To date, the contest has received pledges of funding or technical support from the Omidyar Network, Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, and the U.S. Department of State. In addition, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has offered expert business mentorship and marketing support for future grant recipients.
"Traditional media are still growing in Africa, but media organizations know that they need to go digital and mobile to prepare for the future," said African Media Initiative CEO Amadou Mahtar Ba. "Many, however, don't have the resources to experiment or take risks, especially in this economic climate. This competition is our way of saying: 'We're here to help. If you come up with an innovative idea to improve the African media landscape, we'll help make it happen.'"