When the youth is heard

June is Youth Month in South Africa. It’s a time when the country is encouraged to think about the bravery of the young people who, on 16 June 1976, put their lives on the line during the uprisings that started in Soweto and spread around the country.

This Uprising is said to have changed the socio-political landscape of the country as the youth fought against the oppressive policies of the Apartheid era.

At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we are driven to make an impact in the media landscape by empowering the youth with our focus on digital native products and funding projects and organizations producing content that serves underserved communities and indigenous languages.

In the past couple of months the program has on-boarded several new participants that can be seen on our website. These new members of our family showcase our commitment to accelerating innovation and transformation in the local media space.

Independent media thrive in elections coverage

During the month of June two of our participants (The Daily Voxand Daily Maverick) were ranked high in Media Monitoring Africa’s Report on Media Coverage of the 2019 Elections. The report rated news media on a number of factors including the diversity of voices, issues reported on, and the political parties covered by media houses.

The Daily Vox and Daily Maverick got special mentions for being small independent publishers who managed to produce quality journalism in the period Media Monitoring Africa observed.

Young voices speak out

The Daily Vox managed to impress the team at MMA by being a publication staffed by five permanent writers and yet able to deliver engaging content leading up to the elections in May.

The publication ran a dialogue series, sponsored by Telkom, that asked the youth of South Africa to say what issues need to be addressed in the current climate. The dialogue series culminated in a roundtable moderated by The Daily Vox managing editor Sipho Hlongwane.

Our latest addition, the Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Experience (#SMWX), also hosted a youth panel at Menlyn Mall which was moderated by #SMWX host Sizwe. The panel discussed everything related to young people including activism and business:

Diversify diversify diversify

The rest of our participants had a busy month in June as they got advice on how they could fundraise and diversify their revenue streams from fundraising and strategy consultant Carolin Gomilia.

As advertising revenue and digital sales come under strain from shrinking budgets, a struggling economy and the dominance of platforms such as Facebook and Google, it’s more important than ever to look for diverse sources of income.

As the year progresses we will be taking deep dives into the world of podcasting, memberships, audience development and newsletters with our participants. We look forward to updating you all.

A New Dawn in May

May 2019 will be remembered as the month that South Africans went to the polls for the fifth time since we attained democratic freedom in the 1990s. The elections that took place on 8 May went without incident and with journalists and other media professionals being free to report on the events

This past month also saw SAMIP begin working with its newly added participants: GSport4Girls, ViewFinder and #YouthTruth (currently known as #SMWX).

Elections 2019 coverage highlights:

#YouthTruth’s flagship show (The Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Experience) has been making waves for providing a young voice to political discourse in South Africa.

The show started in March with a build-up to the national elections and stakeholders from the major political parties were invited to participate in a series of interviews.

After the elections, The Daily Vox provided a liveblog of the president’s inauguration, that took place on 25 May, on social media which was highly engaged with by their readers:

In Mpumalanga, The New Era reported on the impact of the results on the provincial political scene which saw the Democratic Alliance being replaced by the Economic Freedom Fighters as the official opposition to the African National Congress (ANC).

Leading up to the elections The New Era provided great coverage of the political in-fighting that had engulfed the ANC.

Getting financially literate

On 20 May the team from Unafundo, a business consulting firm run by Khulekile Msimang and his wife Wenzile Madonsela, trained our grantees on financial literacy and business management skills.

The training was in line with SAMIP’s capacity building initiatives which seek to empower our participants with the necessary skills and infrastructure to become sustainable media companies.

During the day our grantees were taken through the basics of financial reporting, accounting, and developing budgets for small businesses.

As the second half of 2019 begins SAMIP looks forward to working with our growing cohort of participants in innovating and transforming the media space in South Africa. Already there are plans to participate in Radio Days Africa, which takes place in July, and WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa conference in September.

Continue visiting our site for more updates on the program and our future plans for our participants and the industry.

Children’s Radio Foundation lands third place in WAN-IFRA Awards

The South Africa Media Innovation Program is pleased to announce the third placement of the Children’s Radio Foundation(CRF) at the World Digital Media Awards, in Scotland last night.

CRF was named a runner-up in the category for Best Innovation to Engage Youth Audiencesfor their WhatsApp Radio Integrationproject after taking home first place in the same category at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa Awards in 2018.

The overall winner of the category was the South American WhatsApp verification project Verificado 2018, with the finalists including an American childrens’ daily news app News-O-Maticand The Quint’s, an Indian publication, ‘Talking Stalking’.

WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Awards recognize groundbreaking digital products that engage readers whilst growing revenue and they featured the winners from the 2018 Digital Media Awards regional editions in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and South Asia.

The awards ceremony took place at the end of the 71stWorld News Media Congress in Glasgow, Scotland.

 

SAMIP adds three more projects to its cohort

At the start of this year the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) held another meeting of its Advisory Committee to decide on the shortlisted applicants for 2019. After a lengthy session the following projects and organizations were selected to enter our program:

GSport4Girls

GSport4Girls is an online platform that provides coverage of female sports in South Africa. Another component of the organization runs the annual GSport Awards and Hall of Fame which recognizes outstanding performances and contributions in the field of women’s sports.

GSport4Girls was founded and is being operated by Kass Naidoo, a veteran sports journalist and broadcaster, and her husband Ryk Meiring, a technology and new media attorney.

ViewFinder

ViewFinder is an investigative journalism and documentary video production startup. The organization is modeling itself on ProPublica, that both accepts grants and also generates revenue from selling data-driven solutions. The startup was founded by journalist and Hubert Humphrey Fellow and entrepreneur Daneel Knoetze.

#YouthTruth

#YouthTruth is a WhatsApp news channel developed as collaborative production between Oxford academic and social commentator Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Thanga, an artificial intelligence (AI) studio based in Johannesburg. The team interviews major names in politics and popular culture and debate the issues of the day.

In its first phase the channel will be launched with their first show, the Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience (#SMWX). This show revolved around the 2019 elections, including weekly video interviews with political and social stakeholders, as well daily updates on the happenings in South Africa.

SAMIP is proud to add these new projects and organizations to our growing cohort and we look forward to working with them in disrupting the news media space in South Africa.

We visited Warsaw!

In mid-April the program travelled to Warsaw, Poland for the Media Development Investment Fund’s bi-annual Media Forum. This conference and celebration takes place every two years with the last one taking place in 2016 after the election of US President Donald Trump – a sign of challenges to the media to come.

The Media Forum provides an opportunity for clients, friends and colleagues of MDIF, from all over the world, to come together to share their learnings and insights in media. Attendees came from more than 30 countries representing everywhere from the South Americas to South East Asia.

Topics examined at the Forum included issues, such as media dealing with intimidation and harassment, to the business of membership and subscription models, mobile journalism storytelling and strategies for operating in challenging economic conditions.

Our participants also got to present to the MDIF board and SAMIP Advisory Committee on their projects and progress since entering our program in a session that stretched for more than two hours but was so immersive and exciting that we managed to keep a packed room.

All-in-all the experience was a once in a lifetime and we got to make new friends and forge stronger relationships with our friends and colleagues at MDIF.

Matthew Buckland, digital pioneer and SAMIP Advisory Committee member, passes away

It is with great sadness that we report the passing away of Matthew Buckland, a member of our Advisory Committee and Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) Entrepreneur-in-Residence, after battling illness.

Professionally, Matt was a genuine pioneer in digital media in South Africa and across the continent. He led the Mail & Guardian’s digital platform in the early 2000s, ensuring that it became Africa’s leading news site. After leaving M&G, he became a digital entrepreneur, founding the highly successful agency Creative Spark.

Matt’s accomplishments in digital media in South Africa led him to being asked to serve on the Advisory Committee of the South Africa Media Innovation Program, where he would share his business acumen with the next generation of media companies transforming the country.

After leaving Creative Spark, he joined MDIF as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, where he was able to share his expertise beyond South Africa, advising and consulting media companies across the world from Indonesia to Peru, and running workshops and trainings from Berlin to Yangon.

Personally, we shall greatly miss Matthew’s warmth, energy, and passion, and would like to pay tribute to a wonderfully able and supportive colleague.

Our thoughts are with Matt’s family at this difficult time.

A pivotal month of March

The month of March is one in which human rights, as enshrined in the Constitution of the country, are celebrated with a public holiday of the same name. The day itself commemorates a moment in time when the country pivoted to making sure that the rights of all citizens were protected and observed instead of a small minority. March was also about pivots for us at the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP).

The pivot to paid

SAMIP itself has been working with our cohort of participants in helping them with their own pivots and none is more important than the pivot to reader revenue – whether it is with a membership plan or a subscription model.

To that end we held our third workshop of the year that was focused on Membership plans and Subscriptions. The workshop was led by Wits Journalism lecturer and SAMIP Advisory Committee member Dinesh Balliah. 

Over two days SAMIP participants were taken through how to go about developing membership plans and the considerations they need to make when contemplating using subscriptions as a source of revenue.

We had speakers from The Membership Puzzle, Mail & Guardian, Daily Maverick (who are a grantee of SAMIP) and Tiso Blackstar who all gave their insights from both the editorial and business sides of the equation. 

As news organizations struggle with declining advertising revenue with the big platforms (Facebook and Google) taking the lion’s share of those revenues, they are beginning to look at how they can get direct revenue from their readers using metered paywalls, membership drives and other paid content strategies.

A pivot to growth

March was a month in which our Advisory Committee, which included newly added member Mandla Langa, met to deliberate over the shortlisted applications for entry into our program. Over the past couple of months the team has been going through the enquiries submitted to our website and doing due diligence in preparation for the meeting.

We look forward to making an announcement on the chosen applicants in due time and we are still taking in enquiries as we continue to grow our cohort of participants.

Cohort highlights

Our participants continue to make splashes in the local and international stage and we would like to highlight some of their achievements in the last month:

Hashtag Our Stories produced a video on refugees in Bangladesh which received more than 180,000 views on Facebook.  For International Women’s Day, that takes place annually on 8 March, they produced a video that highlighted what various women had to say about being a woman in a male dominated industry.

  • #NotYetUhuru launched #YVote4U, an election campaign which will be held nationwide in partnership with #TheTotalShutdown, Corruption Watch, and Country Duty.
  • #NotYetUhuru also participated in the 63rd session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Additionally, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, who is also a part of #NotYetUhuru, was appointed by parliament as a full-time commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa.
  • The Daily Vox published an investigative article which highlighted sexual harassment allegations against Muhammed Desai, the director of the Palestinian lobby group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA).
  • The Children’s Radio Foundation’s WhatsApp Integration Project, that was funded by SAMIP, has been shortlisted for the WAN-IFRA 2019 World Digital Media Awards under the category Best Innovation to Engage Youth Audiences.

April is going to be crazy month and we look forward to growing our program and participants as South Africa celebrates its 25th Freedom Day.

SAMIP advisory committee member receives Honorary Doctorate in Literature

The South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) is pleased to announce that the University of the Witwatersrand will be honoring Mandla Langa with an honorary doctorate in Literature during its March graduation season.

Langa recently joined SAMIP’s Advisory Committee as a representative of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, which is one of the funding organizations behind SAMIP.

Wits University is honoring three individuals, of which Langa is one, for their sterling service to society during its March graduation season.

Langa’s honorary doctorate in Literature is in recognition of his contribution to South African Literature.

“Mandla Langa is one of South Africa’s internationally acknowledged contemporary writers, cultural organizers and a veteran of the national liberation struggle. His biography reveals a complex intertwining between his life-long dedication to the struggles against inhumanity and for freedom, and his persistent courage to engage in critical self-reflection. His national and global stature is an acknowledgment of his immense literary significance and social contribution to South African society.”

His novel The Lost Colours of the Chameleon won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize. In 2009, Mandla also received the Living Legends Award from the City of Durban. During 2010, Mandla was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award from South African Literary Awards. Furthermore, in 2007 Mandla received South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga (silver) for his cultural, artistic and journalistic achievements. 

Besides serving on SAMIP’s Advisory Committee, Langa is also the Chairman of Phuthuma Nathi and Multichoice South Africa’s board. Mandla has also served as a board member for Primedia, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Contemporary African Music and Arts and Medu Arts and Letters.

Our Valentines to SA media

February is known as the month of love and for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we got to express our love for the local media industry and for our participants. The short month may only have twenty-eight days but we packed in more than two months worth of work in it: We went on speed-dates, hung out in a cool workspace learning about native advertising and prepared to expand our cohort of grantees.

Speed dating among journalists

Our highlight event for the month was a speed dating and networking event that SAMIP held with members of the South Africa National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and business and technology developers in Cape Town. The event took place on the evening of February 8 at Workshop17’s Waterfront venue.  

The event kicked off with an address by newly appointed SANEF chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase on the state of news media in South Africa. 

SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa then introduced the program to the attendees and teased out our “Quit Your Job” challenge – which you will hear more about in time.

Our program manager, Bilal Randeree coordinated the speed-dating rounds and towards the end of the programme SAMIP called up interested parties to pitch their ideas to the audience at large. Some great media ideas were heard and the event will hopefully be repeated in Johannesburg in the future.

Going native

The following week we hosted our grantees at Workshop17 for a workshop on native advertising. Forbes estimates that the ever-evolving field of native campaigns will account for 74% of advertising revenue by 2021.

Our participants (which included Daily Maverick, The Daily Vox, Digest, Hashtag our Stories, Igunundu Press, The New EraSoul City, Volume and invited guests from the Mail & Guardian and ViewFinder) were taken through the history of native advertising and why it’s an important revenue stream by Media Development Investment Fund entrepreneur-in-residence Matthew Buckland. 

The attendees also heard from native advertising experts in the fields of publishing an advertising, who gave their take on native campaigns and the learnings they made in them.

Matthew impressed on the attendees that if they tried “dressing up advertising as editorial” they were sure to lose the game. Kathryn and Bernard Kotze from Daily Maverick’s in-house brand studio, Beatnik, also emphasised the ethics of aligning native campaigns with editorial policies. Moneyweb national sales manager Tracy Parsons advised that publishers should stand their ground in negotiations with media buyers and potential clients for native campaigns.

The workshop was a success and a good start to SAMIP’s capacity building initiatives which will see more workshops and trainings taking place throughout 2019.

Cohort highlights

Throughout February our participants also had some successes of their own including:

  • Digest founder Dhanyal Davidson, wrote an article on ways to improve managing money which was published by Fin24. The article highlights how readers use Digest to stay informed about finance and economics in South Africa.
  • Digest and The Daily Vox provided great coverage and analysis on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address which took place on the 7 February.
  • Digest, the Mail & Guardian and the Daily Maverick also provided great coverage and analysis on the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech for 2019 which took place on the 20 February.

As always we are still taking in enquiries on our website, so if you believe you have an innovative news and information organization, product or idea, please submit an enquiry and we promise to respond.

March promises to be another busy month and we look forward to what it brings.

New year, more SAMIP

The year started off with a bang for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP). With 12 grantees under our banner, and more to come, we have our work cut out for us in 2019. 

Last year we ran workshops, trainings and other interventions in order to assist our grantees in growing their projects and businesses. We also attended a number of events and networking opportunities with our fellow media partners and will do so again this year.

A quick December update

December was a crazy month for SAMIP and while we were quiet on the website as 2018 came to a close, we were all over the show in the final stretch of the year. 

The program officer, Siyabonga Africa, and program assistant, Lerato Mashianoke, travelled to the Eastern Cape for Highway Africa which has been dubbed the largest news media conference on the African continent. The program officer was invited to run a workshop on media entrepreneurship and to deliver the keynote address on the final day of the conference that was held at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Siyabonga Africa was interviewed by SAfm’s Sakina Kamwendo during Highway Africa on media entrepreneurship.

At the same time the Open Society Foundation of South Africa was holding its 25th anniversary celebrations that were attended by our program manager, Bilal Randeree. The program got a special mention from OSF president Patrick Gaspard.

Onwards and forwards

After our December break the program reconvened with plans to further develop the current cohort of participants whilst also looking to add new ones and potentially investing in them too.

Our first meeting with the grantees saw the program flying in delegates from each project to Johannesburg for a kick-off event at the Wits Journalism department in Braamfontein. There we were hosted by Africa Check, a fact-checking non-profit that has stellar work in debunking falsehoods and misinformation on the continent.

We were given a presentation on the work Africa Check does by its TRI Facts general manager Aniesha Bulbulia, TRI Facts head of partnerships and engagement Nishen Naicker, and Africa Check acting deputy chief editor Kate Wilkinson. 

Some of the interesting projects we were shown include their Promise Tracker which keeps tabs on the promises made by three incumbent political parties in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Afterwards we updated our grantees on the status of the program and our plans for the year ahead.

2019 and beyond

Beyond January the program will be hosting workshops on native advertising, memberships and subscriptions and many more topics in the space of digital media. 

We are always looking for new and innovative ideas so if you haven’t already please fill in our enquiry form.

We look forward to pushing the boundaries of innovation and transformation in local media and to that end we wish you all a happy and successful 2019.

SAMIP brings together media workers, entrepreneurs and techies

If you are media worker looking for a new challenge or you have a side hustle or project you need someone to work with you then do we have the event for you.

The South Africa Media Innovation Program is heading down to the Mother City on Friday 08 February and will be hosting a networking and speed dating event for media workers, business developers and technologists.

The event takes place at a time when industry leaders and professionals are battling with the disruption of the media industry and solutions are being sought for strategies that can be used to help curb the negative effects.

Already we have seen some of these negative effects such as the recent announcement of the closing down of Ndalo Media (the publishing house of the Destiny titles), the announcement of retrenchments at the SABC and declining advertising and sales revenues for newspapers and magazines.

If you are media worker who is looking for an opportunity to find a potential business or technology partner this is a great opportunity to meet some like-minded folks who could help you make your idea a reality.

If you are interested in signing up to attend our networking event fill in the form below and the SAMIP team will get back to you.