2018 Editorial Goals: Is There a Way To Make Sense of How We Chose Presidents in Francophone Africa?

The current presidents of  (clockwise from top left): DR of Congo, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Togo, Madagascar and Mali.

In 2018, Global Voices newsroom editors, section leaders, and other core team members will be experimenting with a new approach to our work: periodically setting detailed goals and keeping track of our progress on the Community Blog. In the following post, Francophone Africa regional editor Lova Rakotomalala presents his plans for the first part of the year.

2018 is an important electoral year for many African francophone countries. In GV's Francophone Africa section, therefore, we've decided that instead of waiting for the incoming wave of puzzling electoral results to overwhelm us and take us by surprise, we will try to get ahead of the “storm”, if you will, and examine the context of each election prior to the drama and frenzy of campaign season. This goal supports GV's mission to equitably pay attention to and learn about under-covered communities.

A good primer on the rationale for this type of coverage was this post co-authored by members of the Sub-Saharan Africa regional team and spearheaded by Nwach.

The plan

The idea is to monitor and report on the conversation ahead of the elections in each country, in order to provide a better understanding of what is at stake and anticipate any unusual developments.

The current list of presidential elections scheduled to take place in the region in 2018 includes (but is not limited to):

  • Cameroon (Oct 2018)
  • DR of Congo (Dec 2018)
  • Mali (2018, month to be determined)
  • Madagascar (November 2018)
  • Togo (2020 but ongoing protests to demand removal of president & elections now)


  • Recruit lead contributors from each country to be the reference point for pre-electoral coverage. (5 total)
  • Liaise with our current contributors for the region to make a short list of potential recruits.
  • We will also take advantage of the accrued focus on the region to cover social issues and more human-centric stories.


Month 1: I will map the existing citizen journalism space in the country for interesting voices, independent journals, and social media writers with a specific focus on hashtags that are used locally.

I will reach out to potential reference contacts, follow them and introduce myself. I will state the objective of the projects and see if there is a common interest. I will hash out with them what they are willing to do and their availability.

Month 2: I will continue to actively engage the target community on social media/blogs/etc. By the end of the month, I aim to recruit at a minimum 3 lead contributors from the countries listed with an agreement on the plan moving forward in the pre-electoral period.

Month 3 and beyond: I will onboard new recruits for the elections coverage, introducing them to the community and explaining how GV works, what GV stands for and how they can help. With their help we will deploy the coverage plan, providing context and emphasizing the human interest aspects of the coverage.

At the end of 3 months, I will aim for 5 lead contributors who will spearhead the electoral coverage.


The aim is also to have one long-form story per country that will unpack the singular aspects of the country in a manner that has not been done yet in mainstream media. With the team of lead contributors and other volunteers, we will draft a plan for a template to the campaign coverage for each of the country.

Before any of the elections starts, we should have provided comprehensive primers to the upcoming elections.

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