A bumper Sep-tober update

If you could make any observation about 2019 it’s that time has flown at an exponential rate this year. We have less than 60 days until the end of year and the end of the decade that was the 2010s. For the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) the last two months have seen a lot of activity and progress.

Remember September

During the month of September the program assisted our participant the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) who were tasked with running this year’s Menell Media Exchange (MMX) that was held in Cape Town.  The Menell Media Exchange is an annual conference committed to developing and supporting an inclusive, collaborative, robust and sustainable media community in South Africa and beyond.

This year’s conference had a youth focus as CRF youth reporters and renowned journalists from across South Africa joined forces to map out News for the Next Generation.

SAMIP helped bring down members of our cohort and partners to participate in the conference. At MMX 2019 representatives from #SMWX, The Daily Vox and Mail & Guardian (M&G) sat on a panel discussing youth and elections coverage.

Hashtag our Stories‘ Naeema Dudan ran a workshop on mobile journalism and SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa ran an audience engagement and product development workshop.

Rocking October

During October our participant ViewFinder launched their investigative journalism platform along with a report on police brutality cover ups in farming communities. They ran social media campaign to promote the launch and late in the month they held screenings of A Killing in the Winelands a documentary film in the #KillingTheFiles series.

October also saw the annual African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) taking place in Johannesburg and was hosted by Wits Journalism. The conference brings together the continental journalism community and SAMIP was roped in to assist with programming and bringing our participants.

A couple of our participants ran workshops and sat on panels during the conference:

  • Igunundu Press chairman Nhlanhla Mtaka was invited to sit on a panel discussing investigative journalism in rural areas. Igunundu’s publication Bayede News publishes a number of stores on corruption, tender irregularities and political clashes in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • ViewFinder founder Daneel Knoetze presented a case study on their flagship investigation into the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (IPID) cover up of police brutalities in farming communities.
  • Daily Maverick publisher Styli Charalambous and our program manager Bilal Randeree sat on a panel and ran a workshop on media sustainability that has become a conference highlight.

The program has also begun running a roadshow to meet members of the community paper sector as we continue looking for more organizations and projects to add to our cohort of participants. In October we visited publications in the Western Cape and we plan on doing the same in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

As the year comes to close we urge to submit your enquires to our website.

Until next time. Cheers

August winds bring growth and opportunity for SAMIP

August is Women’s Month in South Africa and the country takes the time to commit to uplifting women in our society. At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we strive to do our part through our mission in transforming the local media industry by empowering more female entrepreneurs and media leaders.

GSport4Girls honors the women’s sporting community

On Saturday 31 August, the women’s sporting community gathered at the Deck @ Wanderers for the annual GSport Awards and Hall of Fame that have now been renamed to the Momentum gsport Awards. The renaming came after GSport, a SAMIP participant since March, secured a naming rights deal with the financial institution.

The awards featured more than 50 finalists, with the youngest being eight-year-old chess whiz Minentle Miya, and for the first time in the awards’ six-year history the organizers were able to present cash prizes (ranging from R5,000 to R20,000) to the winners of the categories.

Gsport co-founder and board member Kass Naidoo says that with SAMIP’s assistance they were able to appoint more resources to run the digital platforms. This freed up the founders to work on commercializing the events side of the business.

“This led to gsport securing leading insurer, Momentum as the Naming Rights partner. Alongside this, the initiative secured encouraging support from the Sports Ministry, Brand SA, Gauteng Sport, Vision View, Estee Lauder, Big Five Duty Free, Worldwide Sports, Circa, and Red Bull.”

The SAMIP family continues to grow

August also saw SAMIP adding two more new participants to our growing cohort:

Health-e News

Health-e News has a 20-year history as a news agency in South Africa that reports on public health issues to empower South Africans. Their current focus is on HIV/Aids, communicable diseases and reproductive health. They have 14 full-time staff of which 60% of them are young black women.

The organization is headed up by its CEO Sibongile Nkosi who is leading them as they work on finding innovative revenue streams, exploring memberships and growing their audience through their user generated content platform OurHealth.

Mail & Guardian

The weekly publication started out as The Weekly Mail in mid-1985. Over the years it has published major investigations such as “Oilgate” and articles on the corrupt relationship between the former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi and gangster Glenn Agliotti.

The publication has as its editor-in-chief Khadija Patel who also co-founded The Daily Vox. Patel is also the vice chairperson of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, an honorary member of the Golden Key Society and one of the first recipients of the Ford Foundation’s #NoFilter Fellowship.

Mail & Guardian will be working with SAMIP in re-developing its online platforms as it transitions into a digital-first publication.

Becoming more “memberful”

August was also Membership Month for SAMIP and throughout the period we hosted Membership Puzzle Project (MPP) fund director Ariel Zirulnick who worked with our cohort in exploring membership plans as well audience engagement strategies.

Ariel’s visit to South Africa was capped off with a workshop hosted by MPP and, SAMIP participant, Daily Maverick in Cape Town. As a grantee of Membership Puzzle Project, Daily Maverick presented its findings acquired during its first year of running its Maverick Insider membership program.

Daily Maverick also celebrated the first year of Maverick Insider with a party that was held at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Africa Art. At the event were Maverick Insider members who came on-board the program to promote and support the good journalism done by the organization.

New Advisory Committee member Vincent Maher

And lastly the SAMIP advisory committee has added Vincent Maher as its newest member. Vincent took up the seat  after the untimely passing of committee member and MDIF entrepreneur-in-residence Matthew Buckland.

Vincent is currently the head of digital enablement at Multichoice and brings with him more than a decade’s worth of experience as a digital strategist and technology entrepreneur.

With August behind us and an enlarged cohort of participants, we look forward to what the rest of 2019 brings. There are more events coming up and opportunities to join us as we continue along our path of accelerating innovation and transformation in the South African media space.

SAMIP warms up the coldest month of the year

July tends to be dominated with news of the Durban July – the eponymous horse race which brings out the fashionistas of the country. But for the South Africa Media Innovation Program it was a month of learnings and innovation.

New voices in podcasting

The coldest month of the year saw the program attending Radio Days Africa (RDA) with several of our participants and partners. The conference is billed as the largest audio and radio themed gathering on the continent, featuring talks by experts both local and abroad.

SAMIP, in collaboration with our participant the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), brought over three excellent podcast producers and trainers who lead two sessions at RDA on the business of podcasting and a two-part storytelling masterclass for podcasts:



 

  • Selly Thiam who is the director of None on Record, a digital media organization that works with African LGBTI communities across the African continent and the diaspora. Based in Nairobi, their Afro Queer podcast was recently selected to take part in Google’s Podcast Creator program. Selly is also a journalist and oral historian whose work has appeared on National Public Radio, PBS, and in the New York Times. She was a producer for Storycorps, PBS’ Learning Matters, and a Carnegie Fellow at ABC News Investigative Unit.
  • Veralyn Williams is a producer on WNYC’s new show The Stakes with Kai Wright, and has worked on a wide range of podcasting production and radio training projects (WNYC, Slate). Veralyn is also a former youth reporter, and has done numerous training programs across Africa.
  • Eric Eddings co-hosts The Nod at Gimlet Media. He also co-hosted “For Colored Nerds”, an independent podcast about race, news and pop culture. Prior to working at Gimlet, he helped nonprofits and foundations develop digital strategies at Fenton.

After the conference SAMIP held a special round-table discussion with the podcast trainers and several of our participants to figure out how to add new voices in podcasting in terms of revenue, content and distribution.

It was an insightful discussion which featured debates on the role of WhatsApp as a distribution platform, how vernacular languages are under served in the local podcasting space and possible business models to make podcasting sustainable in South Africa.

SAMIP participant Volume got to present their “What’s Crap on WhatsApp” project at Radio Days Africa. The project is a voice note show created by Africa Check in partnership with Volume to fight mis/disinformation that’s spread on WhatsApp and was the winner of the 2019 Fact Forward Innovation Fund for which Africa Check and Volume were awarded a $50,000 grant.

Fundraising for media

During July our participants were also given special coaching by independent consultant Carolin Gomulia. Carolin took the participants through the complexities of fundraising in South Africa, prospecting for funds and how to manage relations between funders and grantees.

This is in line with SAMIP’s goal of helping our participants become financially sustainable by diversifying their revenue streams.

Other important stories by SAMIP’s cohort:

    • Digest used Instagram to explain Expropriation without Compensation https://bit.ly/2SUSnvT
    • The Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience (#SMWX) covered President Zuma’s testimony on State Capture

With July behind us SAMIP is looking forward to a busy third quarter of the year with more additions to the cohort and exploring topics in memberships and audience engagement.

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.