‘Bird’, Pan-African news agency, goes live

 The news agency has already began on-boarding African content creators and journalists.

Photo credit: Pool

A new platform dedicated to generating news content that shifts the narrative about Africa away from dangerous stereotypes has gone live.

Dubbed ‘Bird’, the platform is Africa’s first optimised-for-mobile story agency launched by Africa No Filter (ANF), a non-profit organisation focused on narrative change.

Africa No Filter Executive Director, Moky Makura, said the agency was set up to create compelling multimedia content for African media outlets that’s more reflective of a vibrant, energetic and highly creative continent.

“We identified a clear need for more human interest and feature style stories to counter the barrage of hard news, often negative, stories that are shaping how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself,” said Makura.

“Bird's mission is to create a home for these stories and make them accessible to media outlets. This way, we have the potential to reach millions more with content that connects the continent and has the power to change perceptions. It’s an incredibly exciting initiative and a potential game changer for our mission,” added Makura.

The agency’s operating model is similar to that of most global news agencies like AFP and Reuters, with the difference being it doesn’t charge its media clients for run its stories. 

Its parent company, Africa No Filter, foots the bill for creation of the content through a network of contributors, which the team at Bird edits and fact-checks, before delivering to its digital platform for its clients.

The launch of the news agency follows the release of a report titled “How African Media Covers Africa”, which found that a third of all African stories in news outlets on the continent are sourced from foreign news services, many negative and conflict-filled.

 During the period under review, AFP and BBC accounted for a quarter of all the stories about other African countries in monitored outlets. African news agencies contributed minimally, according to the report released in March 2021.

 The research surveyed 38 African editors and analysed content from 60 African news outlets in 15 countries between September and October 2020.

 The agency has already began on-boarding African content creators and journalists who will benefit from paid work and training opportunities.

 “We’re looking to sign up more media partnerships and bring on more content creators and mobile journalists who are passionate about profiling ordinary people, places and topics that celebrate the continent.  We prioritize stories that deliberately shift the prevailing stereotypical narrative about the continent away from poverty, disease, conflict, poor leadership and corruption,” said Tom Kirkwood, head of Nairobi-based Africa InSight Communications, tasked with building Bird’s systems and platform.

 Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative funded by the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and the British Council.