Two Nation Media Group digital products, Newsplex and My Network, beat entries from across Africa to win top honours at the 2017 Digital Media Africa Awards announced on Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany.
Other NMG assets that were celebrated at the awards include: KenyaBuzz, which was a runner –up in the Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Website category, Nation News App (runner-up, News Mobile Service), Nation Messenger Bot (runner-up, Innovation/New Product) and Business Daily Relaunch (runner-up, Digital Advertising Campaign).
The awards, presented by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, recognise media houses that have adopted digital media to meet the major changes in how people consume news.
The Deadly Force Database and series by Newsplex clinched the best Data Visualisation award while My Network was named the best Innovation to Engage Youth Audiences.
Deadly Force seeks to record all the deaths from police encounters in Kenya, relying on reports by the public, including individuals, the media, and private and public sector organisations.
NMG’s data journalism desk, Newsplex, has been monitoring local media and human rights reports, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and human rights organisations’ websites and social media to track cases of people killed by the police and the circumstances surrounding their deaths since 2016.
Specific details recorded for each case include age, name and occupation of the deceased and whether the person was armed.
The project also brings together Newsplex reporting and crowdsourced information to build a public record of such fatalities.
“This project takes a theme familiar from US investigations into homicide, and brings it home to Kenya with a powerful emphasis on naming each victim; in the process translating faceless statistics back into individuals,” said the judging panel.
During the launch of the project in October last year, a three-part, data-driven multimedia series on police killings was aired on NTV and published in the Daily Nation and on Newsplex online. It generated public debate on police killings and reaction from the police and the government.
The anchor story examined who is likely to be killed by police in Kenya through infographics, interactive charts and a narrative: Police kill 122 in 8 months, Nation Newsplex database shows. Another story looked at Kenya’s shameful record in global police killings.
These stories were accompanied by powerful witness accounts and the stories of relatives and loved ones of the people killed by police. They included: Mourning families decry brutal police response to protests, “Even in Mathare, people have a right to life” , “Police hitmen instil fear in city slums” and “My son begged to live, he got 9 bullets”.
Other stories revealed that police officers too are victims of police killings and explored ways in which the oversight institutions deal with such killings and the recourse available to the relatives of the dead.
“The visualisations are clear and charts are also used outside the database on key news stories which is a thoughtful reuse of material,” said one panel member.
On the first anniversary of Deadly Force, Newsplex published a new series of stories, including "Police killed 214 people as of October", the database shows.
Seven other awards went to media houses in South Africa, including Chronicle Productions, Media24, Blackstar Group, Condé Nast Independent Magazines and one to BBC Media Action, Sierra Leone.