Food For Mzansi’s citizen journalism project bears fruit

From the latest news and podcasts, to job opportunities and award ceremonies, here are the latest updates from the SAMIP cohort

Food for Mzansi names top citizen journos

Last week agri-news publisher Food For Mzansi hosted an award ceremony for the top performers from its WhatsApp-based citizen journalism initiative, Sinelizwi (isiXhosa for ‘we have the word’). The year-long program was supported by the Google News Initiative, and received the 2020 Africa Digital Media Award for best news literacy project. Read more.

Scrolla tracks the Adam Habib saga

Scrolla, a bilingual mobile-first news agency, was the first to cover the latest twist in the controversy around South African academic Adam Habib, who faces calls to be removed as head of a UK university over use of the “n-word”. Scrolla broke news of a statement by four South African intellectuals defending Habib, which has further stoked the controversy.

DM podcast continues its search for solutions

The latest episode of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Daily Maverick’s flagship podcast, continues its pivot to solutions-focused journalism, with an exploration of how the debate around South Africa’s apartheid and colonial monuments can learn from other societies grappling with an ugly past.

 #SMWX on the need for new politics

The latest video from youth politics hub #SMWX featured political analyst Tessa Dooms to discuss former DA Leader Tony Leon’s reemergence in the party’s factional debates, and the need to imagine a political future beyond the ANC.

 gsport marks winners of women’s sports

Women’s sports outlet gsport spotlighted some of the champion athletes celebrated at the recent Recognition of Excellence in Sport Awards – including special mention for the Protea Women, who are climbing the international rankings for women’s cricket after a series of wins against New Zealand, Pakistan and India.

Hashtag our Stories is hiring

Hashtag our Stories is looking to fill ten permanent vacancies. The digital story-telling agency publishes videos about people positively changing their world using snapchat. For more information on the available position email them at

New podcasts from Volume

Podcasting start-up Volume has released new episodes for a range of shows.

Power of the Streets, produced with Human Rights Watch, features an interview with an Ethiopian student leader struggling for women’s rights.

The weekly Afrikaans news wrap, Nuus met Spies, unpacked road death statistics from the Easter weekend and details of the country’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Finally, What’s Crap on WhatsApp, the hoax debunking podcast hosted with Africa Check, has a new co-host, with Volume’s Andisiwe May taking over from co-founder Paul McNally.

New blood at M&G, SAMIP members join global j-school cohort

Here are the latest updates from in and around the SAMIP family

M&G names Ron Derby as new editor-in-chief

The Mail & Guardian has appointed veteran business reporter Ron Derby as its next editor-in-chief, starting in May. Former broadcaster Redi Tlhabi was announced as a guest editor for the next, to support Derby’s transition in May.

Media Hack flying the flag at Newmark J-School

Laura Grant, co-founder of data journalism start-up Media Hack, is one of 25 journalists selected for the 2021 cohort of Newmark Graduate School of Journalism’s Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms programme. Ferial Hafajee, associate editor for Daily Maverick and a SAMIP community mentor, will also take part in the programme. video takes on Big Pharma

Verashni Pillay’s recently reintroduced video explainers alongside The Wrap, its weekly email and WhatsApp news digest. As concern mounts about vaccine shortages in the global south, their recent explainer video on vaccine inequality received over 11,000 views.

Unpacking the inequality behind student protests

Sticking with growth in video content, the latest release from youth politics hub SMWX is a dialogue with public intellectual and economist Lebohang Pheko, looking at persistent inequalities shaping students protests and policing in South Africa.

DM168 expands circulation

Daily Maverick has announced a new circulation channel for its weekly print title. Daily Maverick 168 will now be available at Exclusive Books, as well as Pick n Pay, raising their weekly circulation to 34,000.

Hashtag Our Story is hiring

Mobile story agency Hashtag Our Stories is hiring ten full-time journalists to work across their four shows on Snapchat. Video experience is preferred, but not mandatory, and candidates can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Apply at

How The Daily Vox tripled its email audience

The simple steps that helped a small team grow its newsletter

Success doesn’t have to be a million new subscribers. Sometimes it’s just a few thousand.

As a youth media outlet, The Daily Vox’s biggest audiences have always been on its social media channels, with an on-again-off-again newsletter reaching to an audience in the low thousands.

But after re-launching its weekly newsletter in 2020, in just a few months The Daily Vox tripled that email audience – not due to any big editorial shift or major news event, but simply by carefully implementing some of the basic ‘best practices’ of newsletter publishing.

Speaking at a recent SAMIP event, The Daily Vox’s Fatima Moosa and Des Brown from email service provider Touchbase Pro shared the strategies that helped them grow, and re-engage, their newsletter audience.

Why email matters

The Reuters Institute’s 2020 Digital News Report called it “the resurgence” of email newsletters.

“Once thought of as low-tech and unfashionable,” writes Reuter Institute’s Nic Newman, newsletters “are proving increasingly valuable to publishers looking to build strong direct relationships with audiences.”

This may be especially true for South African publishers: of 40 countries surveyed in the report, South Africans were among the top users of email as a news source, second only to the Belgians.

The Daily Vox relaunched its weekly newsletter during South Africa’s first Covid-19 lockdown – initially, to relatively low engagement and little growth. But with a few iterative changes, these metrics started to improve. Within months, the newsletter audience had nearly tripled, from fewer than 2000 subscribers in July 2020 to over 6000 by February 2021, and reader engagement climbed as well.

An audience growth chart showing steady growth from fewer than 2000 subscribers in July 2020 to over 6000 in the new year

A few thousand new subscribers are no big deal for industry giants, but for many newsletter publishers working from a low base, it’s exactly the break they need.

What’s noteworthy is that the strategies behind that growth are within reach for almost anyone publishing a newsletter:

1. Pop-up forms work (sometimes)

Readers can only subscribe to a newsletter when they know there is a newsletter. It may sound obvious, but Fatima says the single biggest driver of new subscriptions was a simple pop-up form on the website, to complement its regular static signup page, driving visitors from their social pages to sign up for the newsletter as well. Daily Vox also ran subscription campaigns on social media to tap into their large audiences on Twitter and Facebook.

But pop-ups should be used with caution. Last year, newsletter guru Dan Oshinsky ran a masterclass for SAMIP participants on the many shapes and sizes for newsletter sign-up forms. In 25 Ways to Sign Someone Up For Your Newsletter, Dan says: “Pop-ups are one of the most effective units for capturing email sign-ups. But deployed incorrectly, they can also be one of the most annoying for readers.”

The pop-up form on the Daily Vox's website led to subscriber growth

2. Make it personal

The Daily Vox has always thrived by creating strong ties with its youth audience. Fatima drafted the newsletter as a personal reflection on the news of the day, from her to the reader. Where the reader had provided their name, they got a “Dear [Name]” personalised greeting. As the pandemic wore on, Fatima would ask her readers how they were managing, and many replied.

The Daily Vox also added a few automated steps to onboard new readers, including a welcome email for those signing up, and a follow-up message a few days later to invite the reader to specify what kinds of stories they are interested in. This information can be used to segment your audience by interest, so that you can send more targeted content to your audience.

3. Adjust the look and feel

While some newsletter readers may prefer text-first newsletters with a minimalist design, Des Brown, from Touchbase Pro, says The Daily Vox’s readers responded to a more visual format.

Earlier versions of the Daily Vox newsletter were relatively text-heavy, and made little use of images, and

The revamped newsletter format makes use of strong images to break up each section, keeps the copy short and to-the-point: long, unbroken blocks of text can be off-putting to readers. Images link out to the accompanying articles, to make it as easy as possible for the reader to click through. As Des says: “People buy with their eyes.”

The Daily Vox updated its newsletter layout to make stronger use of images, and less text

The lesson: Experiment with the layout and design of the newsletter, to test its impact on readers’ engagement, and to make sure the look and feel is just right.

4. Re-engage or remove non-openers

“Having a large number of subscribers may look impressive, but there’s no point if a number of those are not reading your newsletter,” says Des. While trimming down on dormant or disengaged users is a common ‘best practice’ for newsletter publishers, it’s a bit of housekeeping that many newsrooms don’t get to.

Working with Touchbase Pro, The Daily Vox scheduled an occasional re-engagement email for those who appeared not to be opening the newsletter, asking if they would like to stay on the mailing list or be removed. Those readers who opt out or who don’t respond at all are removed from The Daily Vox’s distribution list.

5. Know your analytics

Knowing which analytics matter, and why, is key to growing your newsletter. Des says statistics were behind the gradual improvements and tweaks The Daily Vox made to its newsletter.

For example: very early on, Fatima saw a sharp increase in open rates when readers were addressed by name.

While each newsletter strategy has its own specific metrics for success, the indicators that mattered most to The Daily Vox’s newsletter: open rates (one way to measure its progress in engaging new readers and re-engaging old ones), click rates (which gave insight on what kinds of stories mattered to readers, and which tweaks to the style and layout were most effective for readers), and unsubscribe rates (which helped measure whether new subscribers liked the newsletter enough to stay).

6. Content is king queen

Whatever marketing and onboarding steps used to grow a newsletter, ultimately, readers will reward you for quality content. The Daily Vox saw a sharp increase in subscriptions in January 2020, just before the start of the academic year, after publishing a series of stories and explainers for incoming students and school learners. Moosa said this uptick in subscribers tracked an increase in web traffic, which led to more potential subscribers being exposed to the sign-up pop-up on the website.

“It’s a combination of the content, and the analytics doing really well,” Moosa said, proving that there’s no substitute for quality content that is meaningful to your audience.

Some of our favourite newsletter resources:


Speaking of newsletters… sign up for SAMIP’s monthly updates on the latest media innovations in our cohort:

Update | SAMIP orgs tapped for Global Media Awards

Another week, another set of exciting developments from in and around the South Africa Media Innovation Program, as SAMIP participants celebrated awards nominations, audience growth, new partnerships, job opportunities, and podcasts.

SAMIP participants make awards shortlist
The International News Media Association has named Daily Maverick and Food for Mzansi among the finalists for the Global Media Awards. The finalists were selected from over 600 entries across 37 countries.

  • Daily Maverick is nominated for Best Idea to Encourage Reader Engagement, for its thriving webinar series, and Best Use of Print, for its surprise launch of a weekly print edition last year.
  • Food for Mzansi is nominated for Best Use of Audio, for its chart-topping farming podcast, and Best Idea to Grow Advertising Sales, for a sponsored series on agri finance with Standard Bank.
    Winners will be announced in June 2021.

SMWX growing its YouTube audience
Youth politics outlet #SMWX has reached a new milestone in their post-Covid shift to remote video content, passing the 20,000 subscriber mark on YouTube. Founder Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh has hosted two video discussions every week, amassing over 60,000 views from the last three weeks alone. See #SMWX on YouTube for more.

gsport bags another partnership for women’s sports
Women’s sports outlet gsport has announced a new partnership with sport sponsorship specialists Flash Sponsorship to boost commercialisation of women’s sport in South Africa. This is the latest example of gsport leveraging innovative partnerships to advance the sector as a whole, including a recent collaboration with Henley Africa to develop a business strategy for the sector, as well as new publishing partnerships with other SAMIP cohort members Mail & Guardian and Igunundu Press.

International coverage for Quote This Woman+
Media diversity initiative Quote This Woman+ was featured by German news cooperative Riff Reporter in the lead-up to International Women’s Day, in an article profiling their work to tackle the lack of gender diversity in mainstream news. Read it here.

Confronting another protest death
The death of master’s student Mthokozisi Edwin Ntumba, reportedly at the hands of police cracking down on student protests in Johannesburg, was a numbing reminder of the pattern of police brutality in South Africa’s protest landscape. Mobile-first news service Scrolla published eyewitness accounts of the shooting in English and isiZulu; youth media outlet The Daily Vox continued their focus on unpacking and explaining the registration and funding issues that are driving student protests; Mail & Guardian’s daily long-read newsletter The Ampersand unpacked the politics and policy failures that have allowed such abuses to flourish.

Food for Mzansi is hiring
Digital agri-news oulet Food for Mzansi is looking for a chief reporter and two junior positions in marketing and journalism. Read more here.

Latest podcast episodes from SAMIP participants:
• Scrolla’s daily isiZulu news wrap, ScrollaCast

• The Witness, Volume’s podcast on African whistleblowers

• Power of the Streets, produced by Volume in partnership with Human Rights Watch
• The Zondo Commission Unpacked produced by Volume for Corruption Watch

• Farmer’s Inside Track, by Food for Mzansi

• A new season of Don’t Shoot the Messenger by Daily Maverick

How women have led media innovation and resilience in Covid-19

Stories of struggle and success from women-led media organisations within the South Africa Media Innovation Program

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” Looking at how the pandemic has disrupted media industries across the world, there are worrying signs that the impact has been greatest on women. But there are also encouraging signs of resilience and innovation in how newsrooms have responded to Covid-related challenges, often led by women in media.

These themes loomed large in a panel discussion hosted last year for women in small media organisations on their experiences in the pandemic.

In marking International Women’s Day, we draw together some of the insights from that discussion. More of the discussion is available as a podcast:


Helping independent publishers weather the storm

Carol Mohlala, former director of the Association of Independent Publishers, says the pandemic hit independent publishers especially hard – and women most of all.

“Most of our members lost 60% of their income, meaning that most of the publishers were either reliant on emergency funding, or were either forced to close down. And when you look at the numbers, those that were forced to close down, were mostly female-led publications. It was quite a bitter pill to swallow,” said Carol.

The personal impacts of the pandemic hit harder than expected, and she decided to step down from her position. She is now rebuilding, regrouping and reimagining how to innovate and provide information to the communities. She aims to still assist community media to recover from the unfortunate repercussions of the pandemic.

“We are in discussions now on how we can look forward to the new way of doing things and how we can survive this storm.”

Closing the gender gap in Covid19 coverage

Quote this Women+ is a non-profit focused on closing the media gender gap by building a community of women+ experts and analysts, to help newsrooms diversify their coverage.

The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 forced the organisation to adapt and act fast.

“We managed to find eight woman who could speak on various aspects of Covid-19,” says QW+ founder Kathy Magrobi. That database of scientists and public health experts was circulated through the Association of Foreign Correspondents in South Africa, and the South African National Editors’ Forum.

News quickly spread and those eight experts were inundated with requests for interviews. In a matter of months, their database grew to over 100 women+ experts on Covid-19. In its efforts to level the playing fields, one of the organisation’s premises is that they do not charge their experts for speaking or the media for using them.

“We didn’t make money at all in that first quarter and we worked so hard and we have almost no staff. So it was at a great cost,” says Kathy.

But she feels that closing the gender gap in Covid-19 news is a vital part of ensuring that societies respond to the pandemic in inclusive ways. “It is what keeps me up at night,” she says.

Towards the end of 2020, however, the organisation was able to use its work during Covid-19 to raise over R60,000 (US$4,000) through a crowdfunding to help QW+ expand its work in the new year.

“In South Africa, it comes out consistently that a woman is just quoted once for every four times that a man is used as a male source. So really pushing for more women sources to be quoted in the news and for that unconscious bias that comes through in reporting,” says Kathy.

Shifting the focus to women’s stories

Dawn Noemdoe, editor of agri news publisher Food for Mzansi, says the publication’s digital focus helped it grow its audience during South Africa’s lockdown. As an advocate of women’s stories, she says one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic is that it highlighted the role of women in agriculture in regrowing the country during this difficult period.

“We started seeing more women in the beginning of the lockdown starting their own community gardens and producing their own food. We’ve really tried to celebrate them during this time,” she says.

“These voices weren’t previously heard before. They were especially bypassed by some of our competitors in the industry,” says Dawn. “And I honestly believe that our future farmer in this country is female.”

Food for Mzansi has started a citizen journalism programme that hopes to encourage people within rural communities to tell their own stories about agriculture, especially women.

“We can sort of change the conversation and the narrative around, who in our country feeds us. Over and above, it’s black women and black people that are feeding us in this country and we should start changing that narrative and putting more of that news out there,” she says.

Although each woman had to pivot in these uncertain times, one thing that united them is their vision to continue to champion women in media. As media organisations face the challenges ahead, this vision will be ever more important.

The full discussion is available as a podcast:

It features Khadija Patel, co-founder of The Daily Vox, Shandukani Mulaudzi, then Contributing Producer at the Children’s Radio Foundation, Kathy Magrobi of Quote this Women+, and Dawn Noemdoe of Food for Mzansi, with entrepreneur Lynette Ntuli moderating.

 The audio was produced by Tinzwe Media.


Update | New podcasts, a Snapchat documentary, and a partnership to build women’s sports

Here are some of the latest updates from in and around the South Africa Media Innovation Program.

Hashtag unveils new made-for-Snapchat show

SA-born mobile storytelling agency Hashtag Our Stories has delivered a new show on Snapchat: ‘Our Health’ features stories of people who found their strength through health challenges. It is the latest entrant from their innovative use of compelling human-interest stories that are adapted to new media formats.

Building the business of women’s sports

Gsport, a media initiative dedicated to women’s sports, has announced a partnership with Henley Business School (Henley Africa) to develop a strategy to support the growth of women’s sports as a sector.

Handing the mic to women on Budget Day

Last week as South Africa’s finance minister Tito Mboweni delivered his latest budget address, the latest media briefing from Quote This Woman+ highlighted economists and finance experts on its diverse community of experts who could give comment and analysis on the grim state of South Africa’s economy.

Profiling children’s stories about a Covid world

Youth media outlet The Daily Vox held a Facebook Live event with Vox alumni, Nathi Nguabane, whose children’s book series on COVID-19, ‘Duma Says’, has been praised bythe health minister

Kickstarting innovation in the region

SAMIP’s Bilal Randaree spoke at the latest meetup hosted by Wits Journalism’s Jamlab, alongside Dr Njoki Chege from the Media Innovation Centre at Kenya’s Aga Khan University, on the opportunities to support media innovation in African contexts.

R100k in support of open data

Media Hack Collective reached a new milestone in the ongoing crowdfunding of their Covid-19 data dashboard: R100,000 in individual contributions. March 2021 marks a full year since the dashboard’s launch.

Scrolla meets the man behind the material

When everyone else was talking about the shirt Zuma’s been wearing for his infamous political tea parties with politicians, mobile-first news service Scrolla spoke to the man behind the design of the shirt.


Volume doubles down on podcasts (again)

Podcasting start-up Volume launched two new podcasts in the past few weeks: their first production in Afrikaans, NuusmetSpies, is a weekly news roundup podcast with journalist Mia Spies; #PowerOfTheStreets, produced with Human Rights Watch, focuses on stories of human rights activsts.

Jobs alerts


SAMIP Update | Building memberships, training podcasters, & boosting women’s voices

The new year has started strong for participants in the South Africa Media Innovation Program, with a host of new products and initiatives, a few early successes, and an opportunity for ten up-and-coming video producers. Here’s our first update of what’s been happening in the SAMIP community:

Volume and M&G picked for global membership program

We were delighted to see two SAMIP orgs selected to join the Membership in News Fund, a global initiative to catalyse membership design in newsrooms around the world. Volume, a podcasting start-up, and Mail & Guardian, one of South Africa’s longest running independent news publishers, will join a cohort of 16 newsrooms from across the world working on developing membership programs. The Membership Puzzle Project, which hosts the Membership in News fund with MDIF, previously worked with Daily Maverick, another SAMIP participant, to develop their successful Maverick Insider program.

Training the next generation of African podcasters

The Radio Workshop, a social enterprise started by the Children’s Radio Foundation, is accepting applications for the first African Podcast Workshop, a free 10-module training for aspiring podcasters across the continent, aged 18-35. Apply before 7 March 2021, here.

The Radio Workshop team also featured at Africa Pod Fest last week (happy Africa Podcast Day, everyone) where they previewed their soon-to-be-launched show, ‘This Is Africa’.

Wanted: 10 video producers

Hashtag Our Stories is launching new shows and on the hunt for ten full-time video producers to remotely help citizens script and shoot videos. To be considered for the role you need strong fact-checking, research and writing clever copy. To apply, send a CV and three story ideas (relevant to people aged 13-24) to They are looking for strong visuals, story arcs and news hooks.

Scrolla marks the lives of those ‘loved and lost’

Scrolla, a bilingual mobile news platform, has introduced an obituary column, ‘Loved and Lost’, to mark the passing of ordinary South Africans, many of whom died of complications related to Covid-19.

The new column is a sombre addition to the outfit’s expanding coverage, which also includes a series on up and coming South African musicians.

Daily Vox shares its winning newsletter strategies

While The Daily Vox is best known for its social media clout, the youth-media outlet recently celebrated impressive growth in its newsletter publishing, having grown its email audience by 150% in five months. At a recent SAMIP community event, Daily Vox’s Fatima Moosa shared some of the simple strategies that attracted thousands of new subscribers: working with Touchbase Pro, a local email publishing platform, they tweaked the use of sign-up forms on social media and the website to make it easier for readers to subscribe, and optimized the look and feel of the newsletter itself.

Spotlighting women in sports

gsport for girls, an online initiative to profile women in sports, has seen their partnership with the Mail & Guardian continue to flourish, with weekly women’s sport content published on M&G’s digital platforms as well as its print edition.

Giving women the mic for state of the nation

As the media prepared to cover President Ramaphosa’s annual State of the Nation Address, Quote This Woman+ challenged newsrooms to draw on members of the QW+ expert community for insight and analysis, to ensure the post-SONA coverage reflected diverse voices and views.

A new podcast on State Capture

Volume has added another podcast to their repertoire: The Zondo Commission Unpacked, created in partnership with Corruption Watch, hosts a series of deep dive conversations on the Commission’s efforts to unravel systemic corruption between the state and private individuals. Listen here.



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.