Christopher Roper is chief engagement strategist and deputy CEO for the continent’s largest federation of civic technology and data journalism labs, Code for Africa (CfA). Leveraging over two decades of insights from building Africa’s largest online news and content portals, Chris shapes CfA’s civic engagement and scaling strategies. He also serves as director for CfA’s forensic data initiative, the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), where he managed the participation of 18 African newsrooms in the Panama Papers transnational investigation, as well as an investigation by 13 newsrooms into worker safety lapses at Australian mines across Africa.
Chris’ role at CfA is underwritten by a Knight International Fellowship, with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ). Prior to joining CfA, Chris was editor-in-chief of Africa’s first newspaper to establish an internet presence, the Mail & Guardian. He rebuilt the newspaper’s digital offerings, boosting audience engagement and, within a year, facilitating a growth in unique monthly visitors from under a million to over two million. The increased audience reach helped M&G boost the impacts of its investigative reporting, including the Nkandla scandal, which first exposed the extent of State Capture in SA and which was influential in the eventual resignation of President Jacob Zuma.
Before M&G, Chris was editor-in-chief of Africa’s largest online publisher, 24.com, where he managed the merger of MWEB and News24 editorial content into the biggest digital content offering in Africa. Chris has taught journalism courses at the Universities of Pretoria and Western Cape, and the Polytechnic of Namibia. Chris has served as a judge on, among others, the SA Bookmark Digital Awards, the British Council Future of News competition, the NuMedia Plum Awards, and the PICA Awards. He frequently consults to publishing houses in his capacity as a Code for Africa strategist.