Africa is not a country: the app

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Clearly, it’s not just African journalists who are fed up with international media occasionally forgetting that Africa is a continent, not a country. I mean, there are 54 countries (with two disputed) on a land mass that represents over 20% of the entire world’s above-sea surface area, a population of more than a billion people and well over a thousand spoken languages. Africa is a huge, rich and diverse place, you’d imagine it would be hard to get so much wrong about the place, especially from so-called professionals.

To prove a point (and to practice his node.js skills), German data-driven journalist and part-time coder Nicolas Kayser-Bril created a JavaScript app that scrapes news stories from The Guardian and The New York Times to show how many stories have been published that refer to the continent of Africa as a country. The Guardian even wrote a story about it.

Essentially, the app scans online news stories from those sites to find articles that mention Africa without referring to a specific country. His work has turned up thousands of examples of poorly-researched or poorly-worded articles from both sources, which he represents in his findings, published here. With any luck, word will spread of the tool’s existence, and hopefully encourage international journalists to avoid the mis-representation of the continent in their future writing.

If you’re interested in performing your own searches using his code, you can grab it from its Github page.

Featured Image Credit: Africaisacontinent.com

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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