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 herehere 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.