The Highway Africa conference, celebrating 22-years as the biggest gathering of its kind in Africa, has kicked off at Rhodes University in Makanda, in the Eastern Cape. Under the theme “Digital Citizenship”, the conference is looking at the impact of digital technologies on journalism and media.

The week started off with two workshops looking at data journalism and science journalism. On Thursday different sessions looked at digital citizenship, public media and rethinking journalism studies going forward.

Data Journalism trainer Peter Verweij says that it’s imperative to incorporate data journalism into the newsroom.

“When you are doing data journalism, you are doing fact-based reporting, meaning you are not doing ‘he said, she said’ journalism… no. We want to have the facts, the analysis of the facts, and a graph to it, so that change is also the content of the media – and in order to do that of course you need some skills.”

Senior reporter from the Ghanaian times Alberto Noreotti says data journalism serves as an essential component in the contemporary media landscape in Africa.

“It has been a very fruitful moment, we have learnt a lot. It’s not just a matter of politics. This time it’s about gathering information and processing. Presenting the data in visual form, graphical or whatever and this is what we need in the contemporary media landscape in Africa. It’s been very useful and interacting with other journalists from various countries is another helpful experience.”