Microsoft News grantees tell the stories behind their stories

How is climate change transforming US residential and commercial real estate markets? 

What are the leading illnesses that contribute to Kenya’s child mortality rate? 

How has the meaning of Tiananmen Square changed in the 30 years since the student protests?  

What health effects have oil spillages in the Niger delta had on local communities? 

Each question touches upon monumental issues that governments, organizations, and citizens have been trying to tackle. These are also the questions that five journalists not only asked on behalf of their newsrooms, research partners, and communities, but also undertook to find answers. 

Microsoft News has been privileged to work alongside journalists and newsrooms on innovation solutions to democratize tools for storytelling, so that they can take on the big stories. As part of our mission to support a free and independent press, our team partnered with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) on a grant program to provide project funding and technology training. Now, about a year later, the recipients–Josh Landis of Nexus Media, Verah Okeyo of Daily Nation, freelance journalist Phil Cunningham, and the team of Kelechukwu Iruoma of Ripples Nigeria and Ruth Olorounbi of Per Second News–are telling their stories behind the story.

Now, you can read the story behind the story: Microsoft Stories has profiled each grantee, who explain how they embarked on their projects, what compelled them, and what they learned–not only about their subject matter but also new ways to think and tell the story.  

These journalists often did the training, research, reporting, and writing for their projects on top of their daily assignments. Despite a daunting workload, they’ve been enthusiastic about learning to see how dry numbers might be transformed into compelling visualizations with Power BI; how livestreaming could involve their community directly into the storytelling; how cloud services like Video Indexer could deliver insights into years of video and audio archives that might otherwise have been lost to history.  

The news industry operates in concurrent cycles of disruption. We’re still re-imagining and reinventing what it means to build an informed citizenry. To this end, Microsoft News is grateful to support the passions of extraordinarily talented reporters from all around the world, who are united in their purpose to help their community.

Vera Chan is Sr. Manager, Worldwide Journalist Relations, for Microsoft News Labs