SAMIP workshop

As the Covid-19 lockdown eases SAMIP participants break news

On Monday 27 April celebrated Freedom Day a commemoration of the country’s transition to democracy that was heralded by the first democratic elections on that day in 1994. This year was different though, while the country is free democratically, the country is under lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

From the start of the short work week to the end of it the country saw increase in the number COVID-19 cases: South Africa as of today 01 May 2020 enters into level 4 of lockdown restrictions. Media Hack Collective COVID-19 dashboard continues to provide updated Coronavirus cases, recoveries, and deaths.

The pandemic and the South African government’s response to it have raised questions amongst citizens and in news media. Like many newsrooms that are operating under the restrictions of the lockdown (that was eased into level 4 this morning) the South Africa Media Innovation Program’s (SAMIP) participants continue to put out stellar work on the pandemic, the lockdown and the state of the world.

Youth news site The Daily Vox and investigative journalism start-up Viewfinder both reported on the ongoing abuses by the country’s police that have been perpetrated on the most vulnerable members of society.

Viewfinder broke an important story on the number of people who have been killed since the lockdown was enforced at the end of March. Two of the people reported as being killed had not been reported on by other media in South Africa: one of the victims was a man who was shot and killed in Groblershoop, Northern Cape, and a man was allegedly beaten to death in Lenasia in Gauteng Province.

South Africa enters level 4

As the country transitions into Level 4 (of a 5-level lockdown process) a lot of confusion was at display. Health-e News reported on how the different levels of the lockdown that the government had enacted. Of importance was the government’s decision on the opening of schools and items that South African’s could purchase in each of the levels.

Minister of agriculture, land reform, and rural development Thoko Didiza announced that most of the agriculture sector and its supporting industries will open during the level 4 of the lockdown. Despite the government’s U-turn to continue the ban on sales of cigarettes, Food for Mzansi reported that the minister’s statement is good news for the agricultural industry and that wine industry insiders are optimistic that level 4 might allow for the online selling of wine.

Progress and innovation continues

SAMIP’s participants also continue to innovate and progress with their projects. In this past week The Daily Vox, Media Hack Collective and Viefinder saw major increases in the number of subscriptions to their respective newsletters. You can subscribe to them on their respective sites.

New entrant Stokvel Talk and legacy publication Mail & Guardian both launched WhatsApp news products in the form digital publications that subscribers can receive in their inboxes.

In times like these the ability of news media to adapt and continue to report on society is a welcome sight. We will keep highlighting our participants’ work which is an important commodity during the pandemic we are all experiencing.