Position in:  Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa

Do you want to help create journalism that changes lives?

Code for Africa (CfA) has an immediate vacancy for a Chief Copy Editor, with extensive newsroom experience and excellent mentoring skills to join our StoryLab. 

The candidate will join our pan-African Knowledge team in one of our primary hubs in Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa. While applicants from these countries will be prioritised, CfA has full-time staff in 21 African countries and is open to exceptional applicants from elsewhere on the continent.

StoryLab is the virtual newsroom for CfA’s Knowledge initiative, which spearheads digital storytelling initiatives and data journalism training partnerships. These partnerships include a network of more than 50 partner newsrooms and 30 partner universities across Africa, as well as CfA communities such as the WanaData women data science/storytelling network, the africanDRONE civic drone community and the sensors.AFRICA sensor journalism initiative. The Knowledge team is also the custodian of other major CfA public infrastructure, such as the continent’s largest open data portal, openAFRICA, and Africa’s largest census data portal, HURUmap.

The Chief Copy Editor will build and supervise the StoryLab’s multilingual copydesk, managing a transnational team that sub-edits and polishes all editorial content prior to publication. Your duties will include recruiting and nurturing a pan-African team of copy editors, and developing a robust CfA style guide to set standards and processes for producing world-class digital storytelling. You will also be responsible for the day-to-day copyflow that detects defects in content and ensures factual accuracy/coherence and grammar/syntax consistency, while meeting deadlines and quality standards.  

The successful candidate will work under the supervision of the StoryLab’s Managing Editor, and will liaise closely with CfA’s WanaData network and partner newsrooms, supported by CfA’s wider Knowledge team of editorial experts, data analysts and digital designers in 21 African countries.

Required: minimum requirements include

  • Excellent journalistic copy-editing and proofreading skills to ensure factual accuracy/coherence and grammar/syntax consistency.
  • Experience of managing a copydesk and team in a mainstream multimedia environment, where content is packaged for publication in a wide variety of formats.
  • Demonstrable understanding of technical editorial production systems and CMS tools, involving multi-stage copy-editing processes.
  • A track record for copy flow management that sticks to editorial deadlines and quality standards.
  • Experience at coordinating digital multimedia content (such as infographics or social media collateral) as an element of copy-edited reportage.
  • Experience at creating or refining editorial guidelines, style guides and playbooks that set the tone, voice and standards for storytelling. 
  • Passion for mentoring young talent and growing new voices. 
  • Strong organisational and decision-making skills, with the ability to coordinate multiple tasks and projects simultaneously, while meeting deadlines and maintaining standards.

Preferred: characteristics that will give you an additional competitive advantage

  • At least 3 years experience in a managerial/leadership role on a fast-paced multilingual and transnational copy desk in mainstream digital media, such as international news agencies/wire services or digital first media platforms.
  • Experience at working with cross-platform data-driven journalism or other multimedia storytelling.
  • A keen eye for data visual storytelling techniques, including experience at integrating social video and interactive infographics into story packages.
  • An understanding of social media storytelling techniques, and editing guidelines, with insights into the strengths/differences of different platforms, including ‘dark social’ channels.
  • A track-record for using copy-editing to actively and formally mentor/train award-winning digital storytellers.
  • Experience in using digital collaboration tools, including Slack, Google Workplace, and Trello to manage editorial workflows, alongside more traditional editorial CMS platforms.
  • Proven ability at working effectively in virtual or distributed newsrooms, coordinating multicultural and multilingual writers, editors, and other project teams across different time zones.

Language and Location Requirements:

  • Location: Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa.
  • Languages: English. 
  • Preferred, but not required:  Arabic and French, plus major African languages such as Amharic, Fulani, Kiswahili, isiZulu, Yoruba, etc

About the Role:

The successful candidate will join CfA’s Knowledge team as part of its StoryLab editorial hub, which seeks to produce storytelling that pushes the envelope both in terms of topics and techniques. StoryLab is led by a Managing Editor and functions as a distributed/virtual newsroom with core staff spread across Africa.

The Chief Copy Editor will manage a small, agile copydesk and specialist translators who sub-edit all CfA digital storytelling, including content produced by WanaData and other ‘fellows’ who are staff journalists at over 50 partner newsrooms across 21 African countries. The ‘fellows’ receive grants or technical support to research and write stories as part of CfA initiatives, such as the Outbreak project that tracks public health emergencies, or Dominion that tracks environmental and land related issues.

The reportage will include pioneering digital techniques, ranging from OSINT (open source intelligence) -driven investigative journalism, to data-driven journalism and multimedia reportage that uses drone/satellite imagery, or evidence from scientific labs or other non-traditional information sources. Stories will be designed as interactive digital packages that can be published in different formats across a range of platforms, from traditional print/broadcast media, to innovative social media (including bots, social video, episodic narratives, etc) and other digital channels.

The copydesk will apply a three-step copy editing process to all content to ensure factual accuracy/coherence, legal compliance/fairness, context, grammar/syntax consistency and adherence to CfA’s editorial style/standard guidelines. The Chief Copy Editor will be responsible for ensuring that copyflow management sticks to agreed deadlines and quality standards, that journalists respond promptly to requests for clarity or corrections on draft content, and that multimedia materials (such as infographics) are commissioned timeously. The Chief Copy Editor will also ensure that feedback to journalists and/or designers is framed as constructive guidance, to help ensure that teams progressively improve the standard of raw content produced by partner newsrooms. This will include custodianship of a CfA style guide, and convening regular ‘brownbag’ skills webinars to improve and standardise editorial quality.

Because of the transnational nature of CfA’s networks, the copydesk will also oversee translation of content from English to other major partner languages, including Arabic and French, as well as large African languages such as Amharic and Kiswahili.

The copydesk will be expected to proactively amplify women’s voices in reportage, spotlighting gender perspectives, quoting women experts and changing perspectives. 

The copydesk will receive support from CfA’s in-house data/design teams, as well as technical support programmes.

Responsibilities: Your daily responsibilities will include

  • Recruiting and managing a core team of highly skilled copyeditors, that transforms raw journalism into award-winning multimedia storytelling.
  • Managing a centralised news diary/schedule, in consultation with the Managing Editor, that governs copyflow with clear production milestones and that delivers content for publication on deadline.
  • Implementing a rigorous proofreading/quality control editing system, that ensures factual accuracy/coherence, legal compliance/fairness, context, grammar/syntax consistency and adherence to CfA’s editorial style/standard guidelines.
  • Designing and curating CfA’s editorial style/standard guidelines, including tipsheets or learning resources for journalists and other content producers to incrementally improve the quality of their raw reportage.
  • Providing regular constructive feedback, guidance, and mentoring for both copy-editors and journalists, to nurture and grow new talent. 

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.

How to apply:

Please fill in this form by no later than 30 June 2022

About Us:

Code for Africa (CfA) is the continent’s largest network of indigenous African civic technology and investigative data journalism laboratories, with over 70 staff in 19 countries, who build digital democracy solutions that are intended to give citizens unfettered access to actionable information that empowers them to make informed decisions and that strengthen civic engagement for improved public governance and accountability.

This includes building infrastructure such as the continent’s largest open data portal, open.AFRICA, and largest open source civic software portal, commons.AFRICA, as well as the largest repository of investigative document-based evidence, source.AFRICA, as well as incubating initiatives as diverse as the africanDRONE network that gives citizens their own ‘eyes in the sky’, the PesaCheck fact-checking initiative in 12 African countries, and the sensors.AFRICA remote-sensing citizen science initiative to combat air/water pollution.

CfA also incubates the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), as an association of the continent’s best investigative newsrooms, ranging from large traditional mainstream media to smaller specialist units. ANCIR member newsrooms investigate crooked politicians, organised crime and big business. The iLAB is ANCIR’s in-house digital forensic unit, with teams in east, south and west Africa. ANCIR uses its resources to strengthen newsrooms’ own internal capacity, by providing access to the world’s best whistleblower encryption and investigative semantic analysis technologies, as well as skills development, and seed grants for cross-border collaboration.

At CfA, we don’t just accept differences – we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products and our community. CfA is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and is an affirmative action employer. If you have a disability or special need that requires accommodation, please let us know. 

To all recruitment agencies: CfA does not accept agency resumes. Please do not forward resumes to our employment application line, CfA employees or any other CfA contact. CfA is not responsible for any fees related to unsolicited resumes.