News Editor at Code for Africa (CfA)

Code for Africa is the continent’s largest federation of independent civic technology and data journalism laboratories, which build digital democracy solutions giving citizens unfettered access to actionable information that empowers them to make informed decisions and that strengthen civic engagement for improved public governance and accountability.

We are recruiting to fill the position below:

Job Title: News Editor – Manage a Pan-African Newsroom that Fights Misinformation

Location: Remote
Employment Type: Full-time

Overview

  • We have an immediate vacancy for a full-time News Editor to help coordinate our multinational PesaCheck fact-checking team.
  • As News Editor, you will be responsible for a team of multilingual researchers/fact-checkers across 13 African countries who debunk misinformation on social and traditional media platforms for an international audience.
  • The team works in a fast-paced virtual newsroom, applying global editorial verification/fact-checking standards to hard-hitting issues ranging from complex conflict situations in countries as diverse as Ethiopia and Mali, to conspiracist anti-vaxx or health claims, and extremist hate speech or election related political claims.
  • Candidates must have demonstrable experience managing a mainstream newsdesk, with proven success working on editorial initiatives that consistently produce high-quality and impactful content on tight deadlines.
  • The News Editor’s primary international language will be English, with additional proficiency in Amharic, Arabic, French and/or kiSwahili being an advantage.
  • PesaCheck is the continent’s largest indigenous fact-checking initiative, by geographic coverage, with teams in 13 African countries.
  • It researches and debunks misinformation published both online and elsewhere in more traditional media, publishing over 2,000 fact-checks per year, in partnership with major platforms ranging from Facebook and TikTok, to traditional media.
  • PesaCheck also tracks promises by public officials and shines a light on public finances to ensure the public is not misled. PesaCheck forms part of Code for Africa (CfA), which is Africa’s largest non-profit digital/data journalism initiative.
  • The successful candidate will be responsible for PesaCheck’s main newsdesk, supported by a Deputy News Editor and two Newsdesk Assistants, who collectively manage a team of ~25 multilingual journalists. The News Editor reports to PesaCheck’s Managing Editor.

About the Role

  • The successful candidate will join Africa’s largest fact-checking initiative: PesaCheck.
  • PesaCheck currently works across 13 African countries, publishing in two international languages (English and French) and a range of major regional indigeonous languages (including Amharic, Afaan-Oromo, Tigrinya and Kiswahili).
  • Its debunks are syndicated by a range of traditional media across the continent, and is also used by major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc, to combat misinformation.
  • Facebook alone labels over six million posts a year as harmful/misleading based on PesaCheck debunks.
  • PesaCheck’s newsroom is structured with a central multilingual newsdesk, managed by the News Editor, that finds and researches misinformation to produce public debunk reports.
  • The newsdesk is supported by a copydesk, managed by the Chief Copyeditor, which reviews and revises all content from the newsdesk to ensure that it meets our factual, language and ethical standards.
  • A special projects team works alongside the newsdesk, under supervision of a Special Projects Editor, to drive election monitoring, newsroom partnerships and a large training initiative. PesaCheck is overseen by a Managing Editor, who answers to CfA’s Editor-in-Chief who also manages the organisation’s other investigative and data journalism newsrooms.
  • The PesaCheck newsroom is staffed by editorial staff including journalists/researchers, data analysts, translators, editors and multimedia producers.
  • The News Editor will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the newsdesk, managing the frontline journalists/researchers across multiple time-zones, with key duties including setting editorial targets and production schedules (strictly enforcing publication deadlines where necessary), helping journalists identify appropriate leads/issues for research, and ensuring that journalists get the data analysis or multimedia support needed to produce impactful content.
  • A major mechanism for achieving this will be the News Editor’s management of an editorial diary, or editorial calendar, that allows for seamless synchronisation of editorial production with the copydesk and other support teams.

Responsibilities
Your daily responsibilities will include:

  • You will manage and nurture PesaCheck’s in-country journalists, overseeing their day-to-day research, helping develop their skills and knowledge, and keeping them on-schedule to meet agreed deadlines and other deliverables.
  • You will select and prioritise editorial leads for your journalists from PesaCheck’s various editorial tip-lines or algorithmic ‘listening’ or media monitoring tools to help ensure we focus our attention on the most harmful misinformation/conspiracies
  • You will facilitate daily editorial planning meetings at which editorial leads/assignments are brainstormed and allocated to in-country journalists/researchers, with clear editorial briefs and submission deadlines.
  • You will, with the support of your Newsdesk Assistants, ensure that journalists meet agreed editorial targets and production schedules, while adhering to PesaCheck’s ethical and editorial policies and standards.
  • You will ensure the accuracy, clarity, fairness and appropriateness of all draft content, and will ensure that journalists respond promptly to any queries or requests by the copydesk or other support teams.
  • You will, in consultation with other editors, make suggestions on explanatory infographics or other multimedia/visual elements for the graphic or data teams to produce to accompany fact-checks.
  • You will, with the support of Newsdesk Assistants and CfA’s technology team, manage PesaCheck’s various databases and digital tools for tracking, matching and analysing misinformation.
  • You will, in consultation with other editors, proactively identify editorial challenges, ranging from skills-gaps to conflict or censorship, that impact on PesaCheck’s research and you will also proactively identify other production bottlenecks that erode PesaCheck’s ability to quickly debunk emerging misinformation narratives.
  • You will, with input from the Managing Editor, drive the refinement of PesaCheck’s editorial style guide and newsdesk ‘playbook’ (operational manual) and editorial policies to help journalists better understand their role and content production guidelines.

Minimum Requirements

  • Demonstrable newsdesk editorial management skills, honed during at least five years managing teams of journalists in a mainstream media or equivalent digital publishing environment.
  • Demonstrable understanding of the step-by-step production process for creating well researched and substantiated news reports, including familiarity with editorial diaries/schedules, editorial workflow, and content assignment/deadline management.
  • Meticulous attention to detail, with the ability to work with congeniality in a fast-paced deadline-driven environment. This includes being an organisational whiz who is able to prioritise multiple simultaneous tasks, while at the same time having the people skills needed to engage diplomatically and collaborate effectively with colleagues under tight deadlines.
  • Robust critical thinking, and strong research and investigative skills, with good general knowledge and interest in current affairs.
  • Proven track-record for creative problem solving in fast-paced impact-driven environments, where solutions involve balancing human and production considerations.
  • Demonstrable ability to self-manage, creating your own as well as wider team timelines and milestones with clear systems/processes.
  • Proficiency in collaborative work solutions such as Google Workplace (Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.), Slack (or equivalents such as Teams), and project management tools like Trello (or equivalents).

Preferred:
Candidates who are able to demonstrate the following will have an advantage:

  • Previous experience in a fact-checking or editorial verification newsroom.
  • In-depth knowledge about ‘information disorder’ and the differences between misinformation and disinformation and mal-information, as well as conspiracist content and hate speech.
  • Working knowledge of French, and/or Arabic, in addition to the African languages within PesaCheck’s 13-country focus area.

Language and Location Requirements:

  • Location: East Africa, or anywhere else in Africa.
  • Languages: English required (French, Arabic, Kiswahili, Amharic helpful).

What We Offer

  • A competitive salary, subject to experience, with opportunities for performance-based growth, both in terms of career path and public stature.
  • A dynamic workplace, with a transnational team, occasional international travel, and generous vacation benefits.
  • Ongoing opportunities to learn new cutting-edge skills and techniques/technologies to future-proof yourself in a rapidly evolving industry.
  • A chance to shine on a global stage, writing for international audiences and interacting with colleagues around the world.

Deadline: 31st December, 2022.

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