Canada trains Ghana’s journalists in data journalism and visual storytelling

Anthony Ayertey of Rite FM helps Joyce Nyaletashi Vidza of Radio Gold create an interactive table on her infographic story

One of the challenges of modern journalism is learning how to communicate about data and how to share the stories that live inside the numbers.

Canadian volunteers with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) helped train Ghanaian reporters to produce infographics that make data more compelling and accessible to their readers.

Contest judge Afua Ankomah stands with competition winners: (from left) second runner up Ernest Dela Aglanu, first place winner Maxwell Adu-Gyamfi of PenPlusBytes, and first runner up Solomon Joojo Cobbinah of JoyNews on MultiTV.

Edmund Kofi Yeboah of the Daily Graphic works on a chart showing demographic data.

Cecil Ato Kwamena Dadzie puts the finishing touches on his story about the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality In Africa.

The reporters, who came from more than ten of Ghana’s most important news outlets, learned to navigate public and private data sources, to understand and interpret the numbers, and how to find a news story within the information. They then learned various ways to depict that story in a visual form using infographic software.

On the second day of training, the journalists squared off against each other to see who had produced the best visual story, addressing topics such as health care deficiencies, government spending, road collisions, cancer rates and more. But the content was designed for more than competition; each piece was also designed for cross-publication by the reporters’ respective news outlets and JHR.

The stories were judged by Marc Ellison, a BBC data journalist, and Afua Ankomah, a Ghanaian data expert and former reporter.

“Within two days I've learned a lot," said Ernest Dela Aglanu, a reporter for "Now I can confidently sit down and look at data. I can pick data from any site – maybe the World Bank or the Ghana Statistical Services – and put them into presentable graphics.”

The High Commission of Canada in Ghana provided support for the event, including a journalism tool kit, sample data, presentations and examples of infographics, as well as certificates for the award winners and participants.

This is not the first time that the High Commission has worked with JHR to train Ghanaian journalists. A social media forum last year helped young Ghanaian journalists realize the potential for using social media to create social change on both local and international platforms.

Events such as this are one way that Canada supports Ghana in its pursuit of a fairer, more open and more democratic society.

"The event was a great success," said JHR trainer Carolyn Thompson. "By the second day, the journalists were very enthusiastic about visual journalism and what they could do with it."

The event also welcomed guests from the World Bank, the United Nations Information Centre, and the Ghana Open Data Initiative. It also received funding from STAR-Ghana.

Interested in reading the stories? The reporters’ work is available online.