FEATUREGlobal Editors Network (GEN), a cross-platform community of more than 1000 Editors-in-Chief, has ranked Voice of Nigeria (VON) among the best 3 media organizations in the Nigeria Editors Lab competition which ended in Lagos on Tuesday.

VON emerged as first runner-up to the winning team, Vanguard Newspapers of Nigeria in the 2-day contest, displacing the University of Lagos Mass Communication Department, which came 2nd last year, to 3rd position.

Vanguard won with a prototype called Ebola Go; an information apps which gives the users all relevant information needed on Ebola – such information as news, write ups, photos, videos, data etc. The project is web, mobile and SMS based.

VON was a debutant (first time participant) in the competition.

Journalists drawn from across the electronic, print and online media platforms gathered at the Pan Atlantic University Lagos to hack out solutions to the scourge of Ebola ravaging parts of West Africa and beyond.

The journalists, representing ten Nigerian media organizations, LAB PARTICIPANTSparticipated in the Editors Lab jointly organized by the School of Media and Communication (Pan Atlantic University), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) the Global Editors Network (GEN), and sponsored by Google.

The Lab was designed to create the resources and tools needed by journalists to address the panic, irrational information, uncertified facts and dangerous rumours arising from existing and potential threats of an Ebola epidemic.


This year’s edition tagged #HackAgainstEbola is the second in the series of 3 focused on that theme, after the last one held in Accra (19-20 November) and before the next one coming up in Dakar in January 2015.

Teams composed of one editor, one designer, and one developer worked to build a prototype App in 48 hours.

Participating teams

The participating teams were: Television Continental (TVC), YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine, The Nation Newspaper, Channels Television, TELL Magazine, VOICE OF NIGERIA, NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA, DigitalSENSE Africa Media, Nigerian NewsDirect, Vanguard Newspapers and the University of Lagos Mass Communication Department.

The participants benefited from workshops given by:

– Oluseun Onigbinde, Knight International Innovation Fellow, ICFJ.

– Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Google West Africa and

– Dr Bakare Lawal, Founder and Team Leader, Ebola Alert.

The teams with the best projects were chosen by a Jury made up of:

– Babatunde Akpeji, Knight International Journalism Fellow

– Mikang Longjan, Program Coordinator, OSF

– Evangéline de Bourgoing, Programme Manager, Global Editors Network

The winning team (Vanguard Newspapers) will compete against the other winning Editors Lab teams during the Editors Lab Final; the World Cup of Newsroom Innovation. This final stage of the Editors Lab international tournament will occur during the GEN Summit 2015 in Barcelona, Spain next June.

Dr Pius
Dr Pius Onobhayedo Head, New Media and Design SMC, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos


The Head of Design and New Media, School of Media and Communication (SMC), Pan Atlantic University, Dr Pius Onobhayedo told Voice of Nigeria that the SMC was committed to offering periodic training opportunities to Nigerian editors within a collaborative framework with the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

VON prototypevon-hae_logo

The VON team, comprising Tony Ekata (Editor and team leader), Samson Orija (Designer) and Olufela Olagunju (Developer) constructed a model, the Voice of Nigeria Hack Against Ebola (VON-HAE) that would serve as a hub for verifiable Ebola-related data presented via the use of social media tools in a user-friendly format.

The VON pitch was also considered the most interesting, as it was laced with suspense, humour and drama.

The 5-minute pitch

Title: VOICE OF NIGERIA HACK AGAINST EBOLA @www.voiceofnigeria.org/hackagainstebola

Presenter (Team leader): “How many Christians do we have here? Kindly indicate by raising your hands quickly.” (Many hands go up)

Presenter: “Good. Now, the Book of Hosea Chapter 4 verse 6 says ….anyone to answer for N1000?” (raises a crispy N1000 note as prize)

Respondent: “My people perish for a lack of knowledge”

Presenter: “Very good” (Hands out the prize and proceeds to present the pitch amid applause)

The project

A model that serves as a hub for verifiable Ebola-related data presented via the use of social media tools in a user-friendly format

Definition of problem

A huge percentage of the deaths from Ebola is from lack of knowledge; the kind of ignorance which led people to drinking salt water that killed even those who would otherwise still be alive today. Bearing that problem in mind, we have designed a prototype that serves as a hub for verifiable Ebola-related information and data presented in user-friendly format.  The platform also addresses the needs of users, particularly children, who may not be able to consume hard facts, by providing them with fun-filled quiz with underlying educative content on Ebola prevention, symptoms, detection and management.

Target audience

The prototype has something for everybody

User experience

Now, please log on to www.voiceofnigeria.org/hackagainstebola (The fully functional website was developed and activated overnight using WordPress, HTML and PHP tools)

On the MENU bar you have the following categories:

  • Resources: With previously published verifiable Ebola-related content imported from the Health category of newsplus.mobi and other sources as well as colour-coded signs and symbols crafted by our designer as teaching aid
  • Research: Containing Google-sourced Ebola trends with authentic data backed by info-graphics
  • Ebola Fun Quiz: Containing carefully crafted quiz. This was demonstrated with a sample during the pitch

Presenter: “Which of the following is a symptom of Ebola?”

  1. Driving too fast
  2. Sleeping too much
  3. Severe headache

Respondent (Dr Onobhayedo): “Severe headache”

Presenter: “Clever boy” (laughter)

Other categories are:

  • News
  • Trending
  • FAQ (Start the discussion): Designed to foster sustainable engagement on the theme whereby users ask questions on the platform and the managers/other users respond

Benefits to audience

  • Eliminate ignorance
  • Reduce panic
  • Empower them in detection and management skills
  • Reduce stigmatization
  • Provide relaxation and assurance
  • Encourage volunteerism and collaboration with EOCs (Emergency Operations Centres)

Technical details

Podcasts, (audio and video) guest blogging (to continue the engagement) bulk SMS (in different languages; VON broadcasts in 8 languages namely: English, French, Arabic, Kiswahili, Fulfulde, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa), links and hyperlinks to other credible Ebola resources e.g. Ebola Alert, WHO, Ministry of Health, etc.

Strap line

We’ve been hugely inspired by the work done by Ebola Alert in record time and we have the conviction that this prototype will make the desired impact. Win or lose, we see this as an avenue for corporate social responsibility and will encourage our organization to make it a permanent feature of VON website.

VICTORY MOMENT: From left, Member of the Jury, Babatunde Akpeji, Fela Olagunju (VON Developer), Dr Pius Onobhayedo (SMC), Samsom Orija, (VON Designer) and Tony Ekata (VON Editor and Team Leader)


A member of the jury, and Program Coordinator OSF, Mikang Longjan, commended the VON team for the versatility of its product:

“First of all, we were very impressed by your project. We felt it was a very strong presentation, especially the website page you created for Ebola. We like the fact that you looked at all age targets. You had a feature for children, which is absent in many other websites. If you go to Google, you hardly see anything for kids. So having that feature for them to have that quiz was a great initiative which we really appreciate and thought was very creative. We also love the fact that VON has that network of coverage. Your networking ability is not only in Nigeria but also within West Africa (Team leader interjects: ‘We broadcast in 8 languages’) Yes, which we were very impressed by. I am sure next year you will work harder but we were very, very impressed”

This was buttressed by the Programme Manager, Global Editors Network, Evangéline de Bourgoing, in a chat with Voice of Nigeria shortly after the event:

VON Team Leader:

We are happy, as the Voice of Nigeria team, to have come 2nd. You were part of the jury. What did you find interesting in our prototype that placed us 2nd in this competition?

Programme Manager:

First of all is that you managed to create something that was working. It was working for desktops and also it was totally responsive to smart phones; so it creates access for a broad population. We also like the fact that you were targeting children with your quiz. It is important to have a central hub with articles, with data with quizzes; with all the resources, and you managed to do that. And then what’s important for me is that you need to curate your information, in general but especially with Ebola because spreading rumours can be deadly; and what I like in your prototype is that you were really fact-checking and curating everything.

VON Team Leader:

Thank you. What do you think we should do more; what should we do better for next time?

Programme Manager:

For me, ehm, I mean you came 2nd and that means your prototype was very, very good….there is a lot of data visualization that you could add to your website and now it’s easy to do good data visualization pretty quickly because there’s a lot of free tools on the web; so I think you could add that. Maybe it’s interesting on Ebola to think about Ebola as a very broad question affecting also the economy, the tourism industry, and I think it’s very interesting as well to think about the lots of funds, lots of money pouring in because of Ebola and I think it’s interesting to think about where that kind of money goes. So, that’s the kind of thing that you could think about in the future.

VON Team Leader: Thank you very much and have a safe trip to France.


PS: Please, click on the following link to see the prototype: http://community.globaleditorsnetwork.org/content/voice-nigeria-hackagainstebola-0







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