Position in: East Africa

Do you want to help craft 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 PesaCheck team. 

PesaCheck is the continent’s largest indigenous fact-checking initiative, by geographic coverage, with teams in 12 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, Africa’s largest non-profit digital/data journalism initiative.

As Chief Copy Editor, you will build and supervise PesaCheck’s multilingual copy desk, managing a transnational team that sub-edits and polishes all fact-checks prior to publication. Your duties will include recruiting and nurturing a pan-African team of copy editors, and developing a robust editorial style guide. 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.  

Candidates must have demonstrable experience managing a mainstream copy desk, with proven success working on editorial initiatives that consistently produce high-quality and impactful content on tight deadlines. The Chief Copy Editor’s primary international language will be English, with additional proficiency in Amharic, Arabic, French and/or Kiswahili being an advantage.

The successful candidate will work under the supervision of PesaCheck’s Managing Editor, work closely with a team of copy editors and translators and will liaise closely with the News Editor.

Required: minimum requirements include

  • Excellent journalistic copy-editing and proofreading skills to ensure factual accuracy/coherence and grammar/syntax consistency.
  • Experience in 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 in coordinating digital multimedia content (such as infographics or social media collateral) as an element of copy-edited reportage.
  • Experience in 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 in working with cross-platform data-driven journalism or other multimedia storytelling.
  • A keen eye for data visual storytelling techniques, including experience in 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: East Africa or anywhere else in Africa
  • Languages: English
  • Preferred, but not required: French or KiSwahili , plus major African languages such as Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Dioula or Fula

About the Role:

The Chief Copy Editor will manage PesaCheck’s copydesk and specialist translators. You will work closely with the editorial team, and occasionally collaborate with other team members in each of the countries where PesaCheck operates in order to verify claims from a variety of sources. The content produced will be published on pesacheck.org, and will also be syndicated with various media partners. 

You will be working to hold public figures accountable and ensure that the media is accurate in its reporting and coverage of issues of public interest. This will require a familiarity with social media as a source of news, as well as a familiarity with news and media consumption patterns in your country. You will also need to have solid news judgement, and a deep knowledge of the media landscape in your country of specialisation and in Africa in general. 

The copy desk will apply a five-step copy editing process to all content to ensure factual accuracy/coherence, legal compliance/fairness, context, grammar/syntax consistency and adherence to PesaCheck’s editorial style/standard guidelines. The Chief Copy Editor will be responsible for ensuring that copy flow 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 PesaCheck style guide, and convening regular ‘brownbag’ skills webinars to improve and standardise editorial quality.

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

Responsibilities: Your daily responsibilities will include

  • Recruit and manage a core team of highly skilled copy editors, that transforms raw journalism into award-winning multimedia storytelling.
  • Manage a centralised news diary/schedule, in consultation with the Managing Editor, that governs copy flow with clear production milestones and that delivers content for publication on deadline.
  • Implement a rigorous proofreading/quality control editing system, that ensures factual accuracy/coherence, legal compliance/fairness, context, grammar/syntax consistency and adherence to PesaCheck’s editorial style/standard guidelines.
  • Design and curate PesaCheck’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.
  • Provide 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 31 January 2024

About Us:

Code for Africa (CfA) is the continent’s largest network of indigenous African civic technology and investigative data journalism laboratories, with over 100 staff in 22 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.