Winnie Kabintie caught up with Carlos Mureithi, whose article “How a ‘headstrong historian’ is rewriting Kenya’s colonial history“ was recognised in first place in the Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards.
A whopping 2,110 article submissions were received from 37 African countries, for the first ever Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards. Between May 3rd to June 30th, African journalists living on the continent were invited to self-nominate articles they had written that help expand knowledge about Africa under the following categories: Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sports; Digital and Human Rights; Health, Climate Change, and Environment; and Women and Youth.
The award recipients were celebrated on November 4th, 2023 at a dedicated session during this year’s Wiki Indaba, hosted by the Wikimedia Morocco User Group in Agadir, Morocco.
The award recipients were decided upon by the Wikimedia Foundation, a Working Group of volunteer African Wikimedia editors, and external experts from across the fields of media and academia on the continent.
I must admit, I wondered just how long it would really take us to shortlist the articles. It wasn’t easy – there were certainly plentiful thought-provoking pieces from almost every corner of the African continent. It reminded me that Africans are indeed great storytellers. Now this might not be backed by scientific facts, but I believe storytelling sure does run in our blood!
Carlos Mureithi’s article; “How a ‘headstrong historian’ is rewriting Kenya’s colonial history“, published in the Christian Science Monitor, is about the power of telling an authentic story. He profiles Chao Tayiana Maina, a Kenyan historian and a Dan David Prize winner who uses tech to uncover buried and overlooked segments of Kenya’s history under the colonial era, deepening knowledge and understanding of the country’s past.
“The story shows the importance of filling historical gaps and making history accessible to people. This recognition validates my work to tell stories of African changemakers and put their voices on the global stage.” he shared.
Carlos Mureithi has been a passionate journalist in Kenya for the past eleven years. As the first place award recipient at this year’s Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards, Carlos was invited to attend the Wiki Indaba community conference, to accept his award and to learn more about the Wikimedia movement.
Below he shares more about his experience, and the role that he believes journalism can play in helping to close digital knowledge gaps.
Q. Now that you have an understanding of the wiki ecosystem and how our open movement works, has that changed or triggered any new perspectives on the work that you do as a journalist?
Learning how Wikimedia volunteers source their content and seeing how my work fits in the larger information ecosystem has made me appreciate what I do more. Without credible and reliable articles by journalists, there’d be no Wikipedia.
Q. You attended our regional conference Wiki Indaba. Did anything stand out for you?
It was an honour to attend this year’s Wiki Indaba to find out about the Wikimedia movement, how volunteers create knowledge on Wikipedia, and the challenges they can face in doing so.
I learned so much during the three days, but what really stood out for me was the immense passion and commitment of the Wikimedia volunteers. To take the time to do such amazing and important work for humanity, while having your own personal life matters to run, is very admirable.
Q. Media bias has been cited by some editors as a key contributor to the digital content gaps in Africa, including on Wikipedia. What are your thoughts on this?
Individual journalists and news organisations have their own different ways of assessing story ideas, and identifying people and subjects to report on based on their target audiences and other factors. Nevertheless,equipping newsrooms with journalists with more diversity in terms of interests, perspectives and experiences could help expand the variety of coverage.
Q. How can the media help shrink digital content gaps on gender?
Editors and news organisations can encourage reporters to have gender balance in the sources they use for their stories. Also, editors, news organisations and other players can create initiatives to help reporters find female sources to quote in their stories. They could, for example, form partnerships to create contact databases focusing on female experts, and make it possible for reporters and other parties to expand these databases further.
One of the major objectives of the Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards in its first pilot year, was to raise awareness of the role of journalism in helping Wikimedians advance free knowledge, and close content gaps about Africa on Wikipedia. From the engagement the Working Group has had with Wikimedians, partner media organizations, and the Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards 2023 recipients; this was indeed a step in the right direction.
“To be honest, I consume content on Wikipedia – especially biographies. Previously, as much as I could see that Wikipedia referenced external sources, it’s only now that I completely understand how important my work as a journalist is in contributing to the content that ends up on the site” said Nigeria’s Osaruonamen Ibizugbe, whose article “FGM: Survivors narrate experiences dealing with absence of the clitoris“, published in Premium Times, was recognised in second place.
What’s more is that soon, African Wikimedians will have access to this database of more than 2,000 articles, allowing them to index, categorize and use them as needed to create and improve content on Wikipedia – and truly open the knowledge!
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