Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms and Data-Driven Journalism in Africa: Journalism Practice, Regulation and Education

Artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and data or metrics-driven practices are increasingly infiltrating all sectors of societies across the world (Stalph 2020; Nadikattu 2016). In fact, algorithms are the current ‘power brokers’ governing what information people consume, produce, and what networks they engage with (Emmert-Streib 2021; Kitchen 2017). The media industry is one of the sectors that is increasing embracing artificial intelligence, algorithms and data to harness the ever-changing potential of information and communication technologies. The latest Reuters Institute report (2022) projects that algorithms, AI and data uptake within newsrooms will increase in the near future – perhaps in light of the dramatic digital influx of consumers, advertisers and media outlets that we saw with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic (Dralega and Napakol 2022).

Already before the pandemic, AI, robots, algorithms and data/metrics were pervasive in many newsrooms, increasingly dictating and rapidly changing journalistic and newsroom practices, cultures and norms – from editorial agenda setting, to news production processes, to audience and advertiser targeting (Moyo et al 2019). Social media platforms have particularly been at the core of the AI and algorithmic turn offering real-time consumer analytics and news-feeds for insatiable and borderless digital citizens. The algorithms within these platforms make them powerful news aggregators, redirecting consumer habits and advertisers, making them vital in the journalism practice and media viability across the globe (Ali and Hassoun 2019).

Nevertheless, the scholarship on AI, algorithms and data-driven journalism from the global South especially in Sub-Saharan African contexts is sparse (Matsvairo, Bebawi and Borges-Rey 2020; Gondwe and White 2021). Most of the empirical studies are Western oriented. Moreover, there are knowledge gaps relating to the post-Covid state of AI, algorithms and data-driven journalism as well as the implications for political, social, cultural, markets and media viability. As a social construct, technology apropriation often comes with repercussions – so what are the repercussions on the development and democratic agenda especially in reference to Universal declarations and SDGs/2030 Agenda for sustainable development? Debates on the role of international players in the AI/data journalism practices in the global south, especially in the modernisation theoretical and post-colonial perspectives. Can the AI/data journalism optimism found in the western world be transferred to the global south wholesomely? The unresolved consequences around issues on the digital divide and marginalisation as well as notions of ‘information as a public good’ need to be brought to the research agenda. Insights are also sought on policy developments, media education and literacy fields (Kothari and Hickerson 2020), which are largely research deserts.

This edited book aims to generate new knowledge on all issues automation and data-driven journalism in post-truth and post-Covid African contexts. Highly rigorous theoretical and empirical chapters unveiling related media innovations and developments are welcome. Also, interdisciplinary perspectives, comparative, ethnographic studies along with multi-genre (i.e. Social media, Television, Newspapers, Radio, community/alternative media, etc.) perspectives and innovative methodologies are warmly welcome. The book will find good readership among media researchers, students, academics, media practitioners and policy makers who seek to understand and make sense of these 4IR technologies and how they are set to revolutionise journalism practice in Africa. A book on Africa as a case study in AI/data journalism would also interest potential investors in AI solutions for journalism (education/training, app development, etc).

Topics include but are not limited to the following:

Part 1: AI, algorithm and data-driven Journalism: Implications and opportunities

Insights on current newsroom trends, cultures, practices and as well as (infra)structures:

  • Data journalism organisation, practices, processes, norms and routines, skills-sets/employment patterns/generational issues as well as their impact on processes, production and distribution of news. How are normative journalism roles negotiated? What are journalists’ attitudes to AI, Algorithms and data-driven journalists?
  • Media viability perspectives highlighting emerging market strategies, advertising, business innovations, etc.
  • Political discourse – (self) censorship, ‘information as public good’, elections, human rights, etc
  • Audience perspectives
  • Content discourse – Fake news and infodemic challenges and fact-checking routines, balance between AI, algorithmic and statistical journalism, etc
  • Historical trajectories, modernisation, post-colonial and African perspectives
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Digital divides and the challenge of representation – gender concerns, rural and community media, youth, refugees etc
  • Thematic focus: Environmental Data Journalisms, climate change, etc

Part 2: Governance – Policy and regulation frameworks

Critical reviews of policy and regulatory developments (in-house, national and regional) exploring not just opportunities and barriers but also policy making processes, actors, interests and consequences.

Part 3: AI, Algorithms and Data-Journalism: Media Literacy and education

  • Data Journalism training at Journalism Institutions and Universities: Curricular, assessment, research. In-house training and (re)skilling – politics and regimes.
  • Educational/training Institutional policy on AI and Data-driven Journalism, attitudes and norms.
  • Industry and Education synergies and partnerships (i.e. internships)

You are welcome to suggest relevant themes not mentioned here.

Important dates:

Abstract submission:                30th March 2022 (extended to 15th April)

Response from Editor:              17th April 2022

Full paper submission:              30th August 2022

We are aiming to be published by May-June 2023.

Important information

Abstract must be 200 words submitted along with 100-word bio.

Full chapters 6000-7000 words.

Strictly follow Emerald Publishers style guide (i.e. APA 6th edition).

Submissions and inquiries:

A brief about the Editor

Carol Azungi Dralega (PhD) is an Associate Professor and head of research on the Global Journalism program – Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Norway. Dralega has prior experience as a sub-editor and reporter at the New Vision Corporation and the Monitor Publication, Uganda’s leading dailies. In 2019 she was editor and mentor for the Youth Newsroom (Youth Times) at the World Press Freedom Day celebrations at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is involved in several research projects including: Violence-inducing Behaviour Prevention in Social-Cyber Space of Local Communities funded by the Norwegian Research Council (2022-26). Preparing Media Practitioners for a Resilient Media in Eastern Africa, Funded by the Norwegian Development Agency (2021-2026). Beyond the gender paradox: Women’s careers in technology-driven research and innovation in and outside of academe, funded by NORDFORSK (2017-2022). Building capacity for a changing media environment in Uganda funded by the Norwegian Development Agency (2014-2021). Dralega has co-edited two books: Dralega, C. A and Napakol A. (2022) Health Crises and media discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer Nature and Dralega, C. A and Napakol A. (Forthcoming 2022) Covid 19 and the media in Sub-Saharan Africa: Media Viability, Framing and Strategic Crisis Communication. Emerald Publishers. These are among several other research projects and publications.