So long, 2020 – you’ve been… interesting

This is a final update from the South Africa Media Innovation Program before we close out the year. You’ve heard it from us before, but in a year of extraordinary challenges for media organisations (and humanity at large), we look back on 2020 with great pride at how the SAMIP cohort adapted, innovated, and excelled under tough conditions.

Media Diaries podcast looks back on a year of pandemic pivots

We’re pleased to announce a special retrospective episode of the Media Diaries podcast, produced by Volume and the SA Media Innovation Program. Months after the podcast first profiled media entrepreneurs’ experiences in a life under lockdown, host Paul McNally checks in with a few of them to see how the year has unfolded for them and their work in this unprecedented year. We hear from members of the data journalism startup Media Diaries, gender-in-news initiative Quote This Woman+, mobile news platform Scrolla, investigative outfit Viewfinder, and agri-news publisher Food for Mzansi – as well as SAMIP’s own Siyabonga Africa.

This year has been anything but easy, yet a common thread in each of these stories is how so many media producers rose to meet the moment, turning their talents and passion to telling stories about and around the pandemic.

Listen for yourself here.

Inspiring the next generation of media mavericks

One of the highlights of the past month was our panel discussion on The Business of News Publishing, which brought together some of the leading publishers in the SAMIP family along with a new generation of media workers.

Verashni Pillay from Explain, Ivor Price from Food for Mzansi and Styli Charalambous from Daily Maverick shared insights on what it takes to make a thriving news business in the twenty-first century. Attendees included recent j-school graduates and some of the talented young interns who have been embedded with SAMIP orgs for the past six months – including Kelly Mutizira (who has been writing for The Daily Vox), Dona van Eeden (who has been writing for Food for Mzansi) and Tsholanang Rapoo (who has been editing videos for #SMWX).

Catch the full write-up by JAMLAB’s Tshepo Tshabalala here.

Partnerships to boost women’s sports coverage

gsport for girls, South Africa’s leading women’s sport news provide, has announced partnerships with two other SAMIP participants to boost the profile of women’s sports at home and abroad. First, the Mail & Guardian and gsport have joined together to focus on women’s sport across the African continent. Second, gsport has partnered with vernacular print publisher, Igunundu Press, to re-package its coverage into isiNguni and expand coverage of women’s sport to new audiences.


Other highlights

  • Quote This Woman+ has concluded a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise revenue for their important work of promoting women+’s voices in the media. In 30 days the non-profit raised over R60,000, 114% of its original target – at the same time, boosting the profile of their work with op-eds, radio interviews, and more.
  • Mobile-first news start-up Scrolla has been making headway in their vernacular news reporting and during November they launched a daily news podcast in isiZulu that is being hosted by one of their content translators.
  • Podcasting start-up Volume was featured in international podcasting outlet PodNews for their innovative approach to audio storytelling during the pandemic – and launched a new series, ‘The Whistleblower’, profiling men and women who have blown the whistle on corruption and abuse of power across Africa.
  • Daily Maverick’s ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ was featured on Apple Podcast’s chart of top new shows for the year.
  • More highlights from in and around the SAMIP family are available here, here and here.

Sustaining a media business in Covid-19

Harlan Mandel, CEO of Media Development Investment Fund, has shared global insights on strategies for media organisations to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses. Read it here.


And that’s it. As the year comes to an end, the SAMIP team is hard at work planning the start of 2021 – a year that is sure to come with some new challenges, and some old ones, but nonetheless a year filled with opportunity for media innovation.

SAMIP Update | DM tops the charts, gsport and M&G join forces for women’s sports

As South Africa heads to a festive season like no other – after a tumultuous year and concerns of a resurgence in Covid 19 cases ahead – SAMIP participants got on with the job of informing and engaging audiences across the country.

Hashtag Our Stories is on TV

Hashtag Our Stories has partnered with NBCLX on a TV project that will see them broadcasting 34 episodes about people changing the world.

Also, Hashtag’s 12-episode Snap Original First Person just launched. Filmed with Snap Specs, the show revolves around young innovators fighting to save our planet in six countries. Find it on Snapchat, by searching “First Person.”

SMWX unpacks BLM, at home and abroad

Over the weekend #SMWX host Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh sat down with activist, author and political organizer DeRay Mckesson to discuss racial justice activism and the intersections between the global north and south. simplifies news

Last week South Africa marked World Aids Day and published an explainer on all the developments related to the treatment of HIV. In addition, ran political coverage of a planned motion of no confidence debate against President Cyril Ramaphosa that was due to take place on Thursday afternoon, before being postponed by the African Transformation Movement (ATM). Explain broke down what ATM wants with Ramaphosa.

A successful campaign for QW+

Quote This Woman+ (QW+) celebrated a successful fundraising month, exceeding their target of R55,000 in 30 days (the campaign netted over R62,000, with more to come). The campaign also helped boost the profile of the organisation’s work to amplify marginalised voices in the news media. Highlights from QW+ include:

  • Cape Talk was one of the broadcasters who interviewed Quote This Woman+ founder Kathy Magrobi on her work. Listen here.
  • Kathy also published an article in Daily Maverick on the challenges of bringing women+ voices to the fore.
  • QW+ was also featured in Wits Journalism’s new State of the Newsroom

Daily Maverick podcast tops the charts

Daily Maverick’s podcast ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ was listed as one of the “New biggest shows in South Africa” by Apple Podcasts, a major win for the outlet. A full list of winners is available here.

In addition, Daily Maverick’s print newspaper ‘Daily Maverick 168’ last edition for 2020 will be released on 19 December. This will be a bumper issue, with increased circulation: 30,000 copies will be released on 19 December and another 10,000 copies will be distributed on 29 December. Get your copy of the paper at the nearest Pick n Pay outlet.

gsport partners with M&G

gsport for girls had a groundbreaking moment as they partnered with Mail & Guardian to increase the coverage of women’s sport on the continent – a partnership between two great SAMIP participants. In addition, gsport for girls will be hosting the gsport Annual List of Newsmakers event in December, the details to be shared in due course.

Volume produces another podcast

Volume has released a new podcast called ‘The Witness’ in partnership with the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF). The podcast is hosted by activist Fatima Hassan and discusses stories of the men and women who risk everything to stand up against corruption. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts.

CRF launches a podcast training

Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) announced a New Voices in Podcasting training – a six-month podcast training program that will take place across four American Corner sites, in partnership with the US Consulate. To kick the initiative off, CRF is co-hosting a US virtual speaker event on “Podcasting 101 A view from the U.S.” You can register for the event here.

Scrolla increases its news coverage

Scrolla has continued to deepen its coverage in the Eastern Cape and sports. Their sports cover tracks the decline of Kaiser Chiefs but extends to smaller teams too. Access other stories here.








 SAMIP Update | Boosting women’s voices, in news reporting, sports media, podcasting and more

As we head into the final month of 2020, here are some of the latest updates in the South Africa Media Innovation Program.

Global recognition for SA podcasting mavens

Podcasting start-up Volume has been featured in international podcasting outlet PodNews, for their innovative approach to audio storytelling during the pandemic.

Virtual storytelling to boost women’s voices

As part of its month-long fundraiser, gender-in-media initiative Quote This Woman+ hosted an online storytelling event featuring tales from members of their community of women+ experts (sexual health expert Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, disability advocate Esihle Mhluzi, change agent Cheryl Benadie and QW+ founder Kathy Mograbi). The event was hosted by founder Verashni Pillay.

Quote This Woman+ is 60% of the way to their monthly crowdfunding target of R55 000, with a week left in the campaign. You can share and support it here.

DM shows it’s no paper tiger

Digital publisher Daily Maverick can now celebrate two print milestones: its book division Maverick451 has launched their second book, Six Years With Al Qaeda, telling the story of former Al Qaeda hostage Stephen McGown. (Watch the virtual launch, with author Tudor Caradoc-Davies and host Rebecca Davis, here). Meanwhile the print weekly Maverick 168 now has a circulation of over 27,000 copies per week.

A must-have guide to women’s sports

gsport for girls continues to build the profile of women in sports, now with a monthly series – gsport Top 10 – counting down some of the major must-follow women in sports

Meanwhile the gsport blogging platform has a vital resource for women in sport to share their views on challenges in various sporting codes: under the banner of #FIXSABASKETBALL, Hale Bookholane calls for drastic changes in basketball from grassroots to national level.

Telling overlooked stories of SA identities

The Daily Vox continued their series looking at diverse experiences of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, with a feature on a trans man working as a doctor in rural KZN.  They also published a piece about the skin lightening industry and another on the politics of Afrikaans.

Expanding its mobile-first news gathering

Bi-lingual mobile news start-up Scrolla continues expanding its editorial mix, with a new political correspondent in KZN, and one on Gauteng’s West Rand. Recent features, published in English and isiZulu, include a scathing profile of poverty in the home village of KZN’s top politician, where residents share their water source with local goat herds.

Power of radio to tell survivors’ stories

While the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, many South African women fear for their lives in their homes where they often find themselves confined with an abuser. A recent feature by Children’s Radio Foundation youth reporters shines a spotlight on those for whom the coronavirus is not the only safety risk.

Building the next generation of media mavens

Last week SAMIP brought together some of our sharpest editorial minds in a virtual seminar on the latest trends in South Africa’s media industry, aimed at a next generation of reporters and publishers. Food for Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price, Daily Maverick publisher Styli Charalambous and co-founder Verashni Pillay gave young graduates and new entrants an insight into where the industry is headed and what needs to be done to ensure independent media continues to thrive.

SAMIP Update | A podcast in isiZulu, a new feminist talk-show, and hard news made easy

From isiZulu podcasts, fundraising campaigns, webinars, tv shows and coverage of all the news of the day, here is what SAMIP participants have been up to.

Scrolla launches a mini podcast
Scrolla, a bilingual mobile-first news platform, launched its new daily mini-podcast on its isiZulu platform. Scrollacast offers a news briefing in just two minutes, read by Scrolla isiZulu translator Zuzile Ndlela. Listen here.

QW+ crowdfunding campaign shows momentum
Quote This Woman+ raised over R30,000 in just a week with its new fundraising campaign – more than half of its monthly target of R55,000. To support the campaign and help QW+ continue to expand its database of hundreds of women+ experts in 2021, donate here.

To coincide with their funding drive, Quote This Woman+ is hosting a live virtual storytelling event on Friday evening, with a panel of storytellers including sexual health expert Dr T, and MC’d by Verashni Pillay. Details and bookings here.

DM hosts podcasting superstar behind NPR’s ‘How I Built This’
Daily Maverick’s Styli Charalambous hosted a webinar with Guy Raz, from NPR’s ‘How I Built This’. Daily Maverick has hosted more than sixty webinars since the start of lock-down, but the conversation with Raz on his book about entrepreneurship and innovation brings new global prestige.

Soul City launches a new feminist show
The Soul City Institute for Social Justice in partnership with the African Women’s Development Fund has launched a feminist talk show on SABC 2. A Feminist Thing will air on the national broadcaster every Sunday at 6:30pm. simplifies news for busy people
It’s been anything but a slow news week, but The Weekly Wrap, the flagship offering of, has you covered. The last two editions tackled the US elections, the latest happenings at the Zondo Commission, and so much more. Subscribe here.

gsport alum joins young leaders programme for the Olympics
gsport for girls celebrated the selection of former reporter Valencia Seshoene to participate in the International Olympic Committee Young Leaders six-week learning sprint programme. The programme is designed to help learners understand the principles of Olympism365.

Virtual career fair gives learners a taste of the farming life (and more)
Food for Mzansi hosted a virtual agriculture career fair, a live-streamed event with exhibitors having virtual rooms with different career options beyond farming for learners all over South Africa. Access the different virtual rooms here.

CRF celebrated for innovation in Covid-19 reporting
Children’s Radio Foundation was featured in by frayintermedia for their innovative work in helping youth reporters do their work safely while reporting in and for an uncertain Covid-19 world. Read more.

SAMIP participants closing the year strong

It would be fair to say this year has been no picnic. So as another month passes, the latest highlights from in and around the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) take on new resonance. With all the challenges that Covid-19 threw at media organisations big and small, merely surviving was accomplishment enough. But we take extra heart in presenting these updates, at the signs that SAMIP participants are not just staying afloat, but growing. Not just thriving, but surviving.

Here are some of the month’s highlights:

Making a mark at the AIJC

This year the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) was held online, like so many other conferences that have been affected by the pandemic. Several of our participants were featured as speakers in the conference including: Quote This Woman+ founder Kathy Magrobi, Viewfinder founder and director Daneel Knoetze, Media Hack Collective co-founder Alastair Otter, and Daily Maverick publisher Styli Charalambous.

A funding campaign to amplify women’s voices

Quote This Woman+ (QW+) has just launched a crowdfunding initiative to continue and expand its work into 2021. In less than a week they’ve raised nearly R30,000 (with a target of at least R55,000 this month).

QW+ aims to disrupt the gender gap in the news media by bringing together an amazing community of women+ experts, as a resource for news organisations to diversify their sources. When the novel coronavirus hit this year, the QW+ team, redoubled its efforts, growing its database of experts to more than 350 women+ voices, covering everything from the science of Covid-19 to politics and the economy, and everything in between.

The early success of their crowdfunding drive is a testament to the incredible value QW+ has shown in its efforts to amplify women’s voices and change the narrative. Share or support the project at

Shaking up the agri-space

Food for Mzansi continues to show how the project is pulling the agri-media sector into the 21st century, and defying some old-school assumptions about what media for the farm-and-food sector should look like.

In October, the digital news outlet launched its brand-new agricultural TV series, Vir die Liefde van die Land (“For the love of the land”). The show promises a focus on the “unsung heroes” of agriculture: its first episode told the story of 73-year-old Samson Mahlaba, who spent 50 years as a labourer before he realised his dream of becoming a farmer.

A Snapchat docuseries on climate activism

Citizen journalism outlet Hashtag Our Stories premiered a new docuseries on Snapchat: First Person. Shot entirely on Spectacles smart-glasses, First Person showcases stories of young innovators fighting to save the planet. Watch it on Snapchat here.

Hashtag also premiered a new series on NBCLX, telling local stories about communities creating positive change – like these eco-designers growing furniture directly from trees.

Exploring race and the newsroom

Last month, #SMWX founder Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh produced a four-part video series unpacking issues of race in the South African media, with support from SAMIP. The series features discussions four prominent media figures: SAMIP Advisory Committee member and health journalist Pontsho Pilane, political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, SABC politics reporter Samkele Maseko and co-founder and editor of The Daily Vox Khadija Patel. Watch it all here:

Other highlights for the month:

  • We were delighted to see staff from the Daily Maverick and Mail & Guardian among the winners of this year’s Sikuvile Journalism Awards. Take a bow Pauli van Wyk (Journalist of the Year and the Investigative Journalism), Richard Poplak (Editorial) and Carlos Amato (Editorial Cartoons).
  • Media Hack Collective delivered a major upgrade to their Covid19 data project, adding a rolling out a data portal for Africa-wide coronavirus stats.
  • Our friends at the Membership Puzzle Project, now part of the Media Development Investment Fund, opened the next round of applications for media organisations seeking to develop a membership programme. The deadline for registrations of interest is 5 November – details and eligibility criteria is here.
  • Also coming up: the Africa Media Summit is set to happen virtually on 19-20 November. Attendance is free – register here.

SAMIP Update | Awards, audio stories, and a Snapchat documentary

As we head into the final week of October, it’s been a busy time for participants of the South Africa Media Innovation Program, with a string of awards, new editorial content, and – yes, a docuseries for Snapchat. Here is what’s been happening in the SAMIP family:

Hashtag snags a Snapchat docuseries

Hashtag Our Stories, a citizen journalism outlet, has announced an upcoming docuseries to premiere on Snapchat on 24 October. First Person, shot on the Spectacles smart-glasses, will showcase the perspectives of young innovators fighting to save the planet.

New awards nods for Daily Maverick and Mail & Guardian

Two SAMIP participants were among the winners announced for this year’s Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards:

  • Daily Maverick’s Pauli van Wyk won Journalist of the Year and the Investigative Journalism category for her investigations of VBS corruption. Meanwhile, Daily Maverick’s Richard Poplak won in the Columns / Editorial category.
  • Mail & Guardian’s Carlos Amato won in the Editorial Cartoons category

Frank talk on race in newsrooms
SMWX continued its four-part series on race and South African media, with founder Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh releasing video chats with SABC politics reporter Samkele Maseko and former Mail & Guardian editor Khadija Patel. Produced in partnership with SAMIP, the series features conversations with diverse practitioners from across the SA media landscape and grapples with the way race continues to affect journalists in South Africa.

A digital jobs fair for farmers of tomorrow

Agri-news outlet Food for Mzansi will be launching a virtual careers fair for high school students looking to enter the agriculture sector. The Food for Mzansi Virtual Agri Career Fair 2020 will feature a series of virtual rooms for high school learners to explore the A to Z of agricultural careers, offering a combination of low-data sound clips for easy and cheap downloads, and high-quality video for those who prefer it. This event launch on 29 October 2020.

Scrolla expands its editorial mix

As its news offering continues to grow, mobile-first news agency Scrolla is expanding its editorial mix to include more sports and music coverage, and has published its first bi-lingual op-ed. The isiZulu version, “Ngabe uAce Magashule uzoboshwa na?” (““Will Ace Magashule be arrested?”) unpacks the messy politics around corruption-accused ANC politician Ace Magashule, and wonders how long he has as a free man. (The English version is here.)

New Covid-19 projects

Children’s Radio Foundation published an audio diary of a CRF local facilitator as she recovers from Covid-19, offering the listener a glimpse of her life in isolation.

Meanwhile, Media Hack Collective has added a new section to their coronavirus data dashboard – a portal to keep track of Covid-19 in the rest of Africa.

Global recognition for women in sports

gsport for girls, a women’s sports initiative in South Africa, continues to raise the profile of women’s sport globally, with profiles of newly elected vice-president of SA Gymnastics, Keolebogile Mokolopo, Kenyan athletics lawyer Sarah Ochwada (the first Black African woman to hold a Master’s Degree in International Sports Law), and global women’s sports advocate Sonia Soria.

Building investigative journalism on the continent
The African Investigative Journalism Conference continued its sessions through the month, with several more inputs from SAMIP participants. Viewfinder’s Daneel Knoetze presented on some of the reporting tools that helped him uncover systemic failures of police oversight in South Africa.

On 28 October, data journalist Alastair Otter from Media Hack Collective will join SAMIP alumni Raymond Joseph and Adi Eyal in a session on the data-driven storytelling behind their long-running investigation of corruption in the South African lottery. The session is facilitated by SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa, making it a true family affair.

Highlighting mental health

As Mental Health Awareness month continues, Verashni Pillay, founder of, published a helpful advisory on how (not) to talk to someone about mental health. The outlet had previously published a video on suicide awareness:

Youth media outlet The Daily Vox also published an article on the need to challenge mental health stigmas within black communities.

SAMIP participants’ blockbuster bi-weekly update

As we enter the final quarter of the year things are about to get busy and this can be seen in the amount of activity from our cohort of participants.

Food for Mzansi launches a TV show

Digital agri-news platform Food For Mzansi set out into a new frontier, with the launch of their TV show Vir die Liefde van die Land (“For the love of the land”). The show is hosted by FFM co-founder Ivor Price and agri-business manager Piet Potgieter, and is broadcast on DSTV. [LINK:

Tackling race in the media

#SMWX founder Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh has partnered with SAMIP to produce a four-part YouTube series unpacking issues of race in the media. The first two episodes featured journalist and media scholar Pontsho Pilane, and political analyst Eusebius McKaiser:

#SMWX is a video channel focusing on politics, culture and current affairs from a youth perspective. Mpofu-Walsh appeared on eNCA to discuss the ongoing video series.

The future of podcasting in Africa?

The World Association of Newspapers’ (WAN-IFRA) write-up on the growth of podcasting in Africa features the work of two podcasting outlets in the SAMIP family: Volume co-founder Paul McNally and Shandukani Mulaudzi, a producer for Children’s Radio Foundation. The two joined a panel discussion on the topic at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa conference last month. [LINK:]

Both Volume and Children’s Radio Foundation also featured in the latest edition of The Podcast Sessions magazine, in an article on strategies for financing podcasting businesses in South Africa and beyond.

Bringing news to new mobile audiences

Scrolla, a bilingual (isiZulu and English) mobile-first news platform has continued delivering local and international news to under-served audiences: from the trial of a policewoman charged with killing family members for insurance fraud, to a teen in Nigeria who builds cardboard superhero outfits went viral on social media.

Stokvel Talk goes back to the printing press

Stokvel Talk, a media company serving members of the South African financial cooperatives known as stokvels, has returned to a print edition of its free community newspaper. For the past few months, the company had focused on publishing digital editions of the newspaper, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. While Stokvel Talk has demonstrated it can successfully pivot to digital, the resumption of printing is a hopeful sign for South Africa’s return to a new normal.

Data stories: how coronavirus spread through SA

Data journalism outfit Media Hack Collective has turned their months of Covid-19 data into an interactive timeline on how the pandemic spread through South Africa. It was published by health reporting group Bhekisisa, and Health24.

Championing women’s voices

Last week QuoteThisWoman+ director Kathy Magrobi spoke at the African Investigative Journalism Conference 2020 in a session on the challenges facing women investigative reporters.

In its ‘Our Voices’ newsletter series, QW+ team member Christina Schild wrote a moving piece about a series of artworks about gender-based violence by Capetonian artist Emma Leslie. Lizette Rabe, a member of the QW+ community of experts, published a piece on the importance of mental health, marking Mental Health Awareness Month.

Tips and resources from the SAMIP family

• Volume’s latest newsletter includes lessons on creating quality podcasts and audio voiceovers in a pandemic – read it here and subscribe at
• Children’s Radio Foundation has produced a toolkit on tackling Covid-19 stigma, to help its youth reporters and radio stations in how they cover the pandemic, and a toolkit on its approach to Remote Outreach and Campaigns to 16 community radio stations.
• Youth outlet The Daily Vox published a handy guide to “fighting fake news on the family WhatsApp group”

September comes and goes for SAMIP

The month of September is Heritage Month in South Africa. This is a month in which all South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their unique backgrounds, cultures and religions. September also marks the last month of the third quarter and the beginning of the end of the year. 2020 has not been short of surprises, challenges and highlights.

With the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) having marked its third year of existence in August we are now into fourth year of the program and we have developed a new culture with our cohort of participants.

SAMIP participants celebrate Heritage Day

Our participants marked Heritage Day with special reports such as The Daily Vox who looked at the real issues South Africans should be paying attention to during this day, including the background of the public holiday and the role that food plays in celebrating our shared heritages.

gsport for girls also celebrated the different cultures present in South African women’s sports and all the female athletes that are flying the country’s flag high around the world.

Daily Maverick published several opinion pieces on the topic of Heritage Day and South Africa’s history with the national holiday as well as human rights in the country.

SAMIP hosts POPI info session

During September SAMIP also hosted on information session on the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) in order to explain the legalese behind the Act and what is relevant for our participants to ensure they’re protecting their audiences’ data.

SAMIP leaned on our partnership with TouchBase Pro, an email and SMS marketing vendor based in South Africa, who helped take our participants through Touchbase’s new user manual on to ensure direct marketing practices are compliant with the POPI Act.

Daily Maverick goes to print

SAMIP participant Daily Maverick launched their new print product Daily Maverick 168 at selected Pick n Pay stores around the country. The paper was the culmination of a year’s long project that was aided by their membership plan Maverick Insider.

Former SAMIP Advisory Committee member Pontsho Pilane wrote a feature on some of the key innovations behind the title.

WAN-IFRA Digital Media Africa 2020

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) held their annual conference and awards ceremony between 08 and 09 September. Several SAMIP participants featured as speakers and panelists during the conference.

These participants included Kathy Magrobi of QuoteThisWoman+; Verashni Pillay of; Shandukani Mulaudzi from Children’s Radio Foundation, Paul McNally from Volume, Styli Charalambous at Daily Maverick and Ivor Price, Food For Mzansi – each representing their organization’s work, projects, and experiences, and the emerging opportunities and innovations for digital media projects across the continent.

Three of our participants were also named as winners at the WAN-IFRA African Digital Media Awards 2020:

  • Mail and Guardian won Best News Website or Mobile Service for their WhatsApp distributed publication The Continent;

  • Daily Maverick won in two categories – Best Paid Content Strategy, and Best Digital Marketing Campaign for a News Brand, both for its Maverick Insider membership programme;

  • Best of all, agri-news start-up Food for Mzansi won across three categories: Best in Audience Engagement (for the Farmers Inside Track campaign), Best Project for News Literacy (for their citizen journalism project that received funding from the Google News Initiative) and Best Special Project for Covid-19 (for their podcast and audience engagement campaign ‘Thandi and Captain Stay Safe’).

As the month came to a close the program looks forward to the next set of wins from our participants in the final quarter of 2020.

Daily Maverick goes to the presses

With the official launch of a new print title for one of our participants, a shout-out in the New York Times for another, and new products and milestones besides, there’s been no shortage of excitement in the SAMIP family. Here are a few of the highlights.

DM goes to the presses (and keeps winning at podcasts)

This was a big week for SAMIP participant Daily Maverick. On Saturday, the digital news publication officially launched their new print product Daily Maverick 168 at selected Pick n Pay outlets nationwide.

Daily Maverick 168 is a welcome addition to the print industry that has seen long-running publications being shuttered. Former SAMIP Advisory Committee member Pontsho Pilane wrote a feature on some of the key innovations behind the title.

This week the Daily Maverick also released the latest episode of the second season of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, their flagship podcast “telling stories behind stories to provide a new perspective and new insights”.

This week’s episode discusses the battle to use technology to save South Africa’s schooling.  To date season two has been at number one on the “News” category in Apple Podcasts for the last few weeks and is currently at number six for Apple Podcasts in SA.

New York Times highlights Viewfinder’s work

Last week SAMIP participant Viewfinder was featured in a New York Times report on police brutality in South Africa. The Times drew on Viewfinder’s insights on the death of disabled teenager Nathaniel Julies, who was allegedly killed by police in his community in Eldorado Park, and interviewed Viewfinder’s editor in chief Daneel Knoetze on the struggles for accountability in police killings. This is another mark of  the significant expertise that the investigative start-up has established on police brutality since its launch last year; more recently they have shone a spotlight on the injustices perpetuated by the police during South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown.

The Daily Vox reminds us why we celebrate Heritage Day

Youth digital publication, The Daily Vox, joined South Africans in marking Heritage Day with a special newsletter edition. The Daily Vox builds on its tradition of incisive social commentary in the special edition by examining the significance of this public holiday, why we celebrate it, and what people think about the day.

gsport’s global initiative marks an important milestone

Women’s sports platform gsport for girls celebrated the one year anniversary of their international campaign, #Gsportglobal. gsport co-founder Kass Naidoo reflects on their first international sports reporting at the women’s cricket tour in India, their journey and experience, and the Momentum Gsport awards.

Food for Mzansi brings food to aspiring cooks

Agri-business news site Food for Mzansi has started a new weekly newsletter aimed at foodies, Mzansi Flavour. The newsletter features recipes for different diets and interviews with well-known and up-and-coming South African chefs.

You can sign up for the Mzansi Flavor weekly newsletter here.

DM168: how a membership model helped a digital news org go analog

As the news media struggles in its shift from print to digital, Daily Maverick’s bold move from digital to print followed the success of its membership program, writes Pontsho Pilane

In a tumultuous time for the media industry globally, one of South Africa’s most popular digital-first-and-only news publications, Daily Maverick, has drawn international attention with its launch of a print weekly.

Daily Maverick 168 (the 168, according to the team, makes reference to the number of hours in a week) is set to launch in late September, via the country’s second-largest supermarket chain, Pick n Pay. Shoppers who use Pick n Pay’s loyalty card can get their copy at no charge, while other shoppers will pay just over one US dollar (R20).

While the digital brand’s bold plan to go “back into the future” with a print edition has made waves – a pilot edition was released earlier this month, to glowing reviews – the seemingly counter-intuitive move follows the longer-term success of Daily Maverick’s membership programme, Maverick Insider.

Launched in 2018, drawing on support from the Membership Puzzle Project, Maverick Insider now boasts over 13,000 members and covers nearly 40% of Daily Maverick’s growing payroll. This growth is the cornerstone of the new products Daily Maverick has introduced over the past two years. (Membership Puzzle Project’s case study on Maverick Insider reports that the program makes up 25% of DM’s revenue.)

“We’re completely invested in membership as a particularly attractive and potentially successful solution to the sustainability problem that media news around the world have,” says CEO Styli Charalambous.

Charalambous says the newsroom has almost doubled in size over the last two years — another uncommon trend in the media industry, with most of the country’s newsrooms shrinking and even the most popular print titles feeling the pinch. In 2018, the circulation of South Africa’s top-selling daily newspaper, the Daily Sun, dropped by 20% and earlier this year announced it will be scaling back its national distribution and discontinuing its sister paper, Sunday Sun.

The decision to go analog when everyone is going digital is not one Daily Maverick’s team made lightly. “Over the last five years, we have been thinking really hard about what is the best way that we can get our long-form journalism into the hands of people who enjoy it, and print has always been one of the avenues that we felt would be a good outlet for that,” Charalambous explains.

Knowing the outlet has at least 13,000 supporters made the decision to start publishing a newspaper a no-brainer, he adds. Unlike a completely new player in the media industry, Daily Maverick has an established brand, and an existing audience made up of loyal readers and members.

“Our members were the first people we told about Maverick 168. We made it clear that we’re going to need their support in order for it to be successful and sustainable, except that this time it’s not going to cost a cent because of the partnership with Pick n Pay,” says Charalambous.

Partnering with Pick n Pay was a decision of convenience and exploiting an already great business partnership with the brand, he adds. Copies of Maverick 168 are predicted to move from the shelves because the publication’s research has shown that most of its members and readers shop at Pick n Pay.

Charalambous says the partnership with Pick n Pay is also an attempt to reach a new audience — one that may otherwise not buy a weekly newspaper because of their cost.

Maverick 168’s editor Heather Robertson says she had not foreseen having to launch the newspaper during a pandemic, but she’s convinced that Daily Maverick is more than up to the task. “We’re not re-inventing the wheel. We’re going to use our existing resources and exact same staff to provide the content for the newspaper. What is going to be different, obviously, is that newspapers are designed on different programs and need to be laid out, but we’re leveraging on the existing systems,” she explains.

The weekly newspaper has two 16 page sections — one for news, opinion, business and sport, and a tabloid section for lifestyle content. The newspaper will use some of the content that will be on the website through repurposing and repackaging, she explains. But the aim is to have unique front-page investigations that are exclusive to the print product.

For media studies scholar Dr Prinola Govenden, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study, a new addition to South Africa’s print titles is a positive development.

“A new newspaper could mean more voices, more perspectives. It could also mean more jobs. However, I do caution that just because there’s another newspaper it doesn’t automatically mean it brings diversity,” says Govenden.

Daily Maverick says it’s going to provide powerhouse experts and quality analysis which is good, but that doesn’t mean providing media coverage and content for the ordinary citizen, or for people with a certain literacy level?” says Govenden.

While debates about the future of print media continue among industry and academic circles, one thing is clear: with its launch into print, Daily Maverick is willing to take a chance that few are willing to – or can afford to. It seems unlikely that this move could have been possible without years of work on building up a community of members willing to invest in the organization and its journalism. Whether Maverick 168 is a success or a failure, it offers the industry new insights that could in the future unlock a viable revenue stream for media producers.

Pontsho Pilane is a freelance writer, and former news editor at Health-e News and the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. She debuted as a journalist at The Daily Vox, where she wrote primarily about gender, race and how they intersect. @pontsho_pilane