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‘No skop, skiet and donder’ but police act with impunity during lockdown

Things are heating up in South Africa as the country enters its first week of a national lockdown during which the government announced the first five deaths as a result of the Coronavirus. The memes have slowed down to a trickle as people begin to grasp the full extent of the damage to the country’s economy, health sector and civil society as a result of the Coronavirus.

Throughout all of this the South Africa Media Innovation Program’s (SAMIP) participants have been hard at work reporting on all of the happenings in the country.

Police brutality comes into the spotlight

With the country going into lockdown the police and army were called up to help manage citizens and their movements. But incidents of abuse of power, by the police, are starting to proliferate on social media.

Investigative journalism start-up ViewFinder published a data story documenting incidents of police brutality that have been an issue even before the lockdown was announced and are now on the rise as members of the police act with impunity.

Mail & Guardian Africa editor Simon Allison and Amabhungane investigative reporter Micah Reddy reported on plain clothes police officers beating up members of the public with shamboks (whips) in order to compel them to observe the rule to stay indoors.

Coronavirus fake news spreads

One of the biggest challenges facing the country in terms of managing the outbreak has been the spread of fake news about the novel Coronavirus on social media platforms and chat apps like WhatsApp.

Online publication Daily Maverick reported on the growing number of fake news stories that are being shared online.

Volume, in collaboration with Africa Check, has been hard at work dispelling myths around Covid-19 such as rumors of Interferon alpha-2b, an antiviral drug used in the treatment of HIV/Aids, being a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus.

According to Volume’s latest ‘Whats Crap on WhatsApp’ podcast WhatsApp voice notes are easy to produce and share, and have become the go-to format that people are using to spread misinformation and disinformation around Covid-19.

Testing on the rise but it is difficult for some

The South African government has been praised for its efforts, especially on the testing front, in fighting the spread Covid-19. But on the ground testing hasn’t gone as smoothly for everyone.

The Children’s Radio Foundation produced a story that was broadcast by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) about a South African who came back from the United Kingdom and struggled with getting a test for Covid-19 even after showing symptoms of the virus.

Mobile news platform Scrolla reported on the first patient from Alexandra (a Johannesburg township) to be diagnosed with Covid-19. Scrolla has partnered with local radio stations and mobile operators in order to share their ground-level reporting on Covid-19 in South Africa.

Innovating around Covid-19

Agri-business publication Food for Mzansi used the opportunity presented by the national lockdown to increase their daily news reporting whilst also looking for new angles to present to their audiences. Some of the pieces they published included a list of 21 recipes that people could try out during the 21-day lockdown.

On an international scale, mobile video producers Hashtag our Stories used virtual reality to host a discussion between Italian teenagers who talked about life under quarantine in their country.

In the world of women’s sports, gsport for girls featured an interview with Bosnian American basketballer Indira Kaljo. Gsport discussed with Kaljo on how she is keeping a healthy mind and body during lockdown.


And continuing the podcast series that was launched last week, Volume has released the second episode of Media Diaries. In this week’s episode the story focuses on Media Hack Collective who developed a data dashboard on Covid-19.

Podcasting in the age of Covid-19

The events of this past week have been monumental: On Monday 23 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the South African government was going to lockdown the country for twenty-one days starting midnight Thursday 26 March.

Despite the new state of the nation the South Africa Media Innovation Program’s (SAMIP) participants have continued their good journalism in covering the developments of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The diary of a media worker

On Wednesday 25 March, Volume released the first episode of a podcast series called Media Diaries: this is a podcast about media workers covering the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa. The podcast is a collaboration between SAMIP and Volume.

“The idea was to do something innovative around Covid-19 and the media,” explains Volume co-founder and director Paul McNally. “How do you do your job as a journalist which needs social contact when you’re supposed to be employing social distancing as a private citizen.”

Listen to the messenger don’t shoot them

Online publication Daily Maverick launched a podcast as well this week: Don’t Shoot the Messenger with Rebecca Davis. The podcast is a look at current affairs through the lens of seasoned journalist Rebecca Davis.

In the first episode, Rebecca interviewed Yale Professor Frank Snowden, who has studied the effects of pandemics throughout history.

Youth, anxiety and the Coronavirus

The Children’s Radio Foundation decided to investigate the effects of the viral outbreak on the youth of the country. The non-profit’s network of youth reporters, consisting of young men and women from around South Africa, shared their feelings about the virus and the lockdown that the country is undergoing.

In a series of vox pops that were collected using WhatsApp voice notes the youth reporters shared their anxiety, sadness and fear about the virus.

Other highlights

The rest of the cohort continued their superb coverage of the pandemic. Data journalism start-up Media Hack Collective saw subscriptions to their weekly newsletter soar on the back of their innovative data dashboard that is tracking the Coronavirus pandemic in South Africa.

Health-e News reported on the plans that the South African government has in place in order to fight the pandemic in townships and peri-urban areas where South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens live.

Youth news site The Daily Vox shared some important resources for South Africans to have on hand during the lockdown. The resources included numbers to report gender based violence that many fear will spike as individuals are being forced into quarantine with their abusers.

And on a lighter note mobile video start-up Hashtag our Stories shared a compilation of videos from around the world where people engaged in the #StayAtHomeChallenge meme.

These are just some of the many projects and stories from our cohort of participants who are innovating and transforming the media space in South Africa.

Remember remember, SAMIP in November

The last couple of months tend to be one of the busiest and the same can be said for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) that is wrapping up 2019 with a series of workshops and training for our participants.

Revenue exploration Prague

In late October, SAMIP participant Daily Maverick attended the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) / Media Advisory Services‘ (MAS) Revenue Lab Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The workshop was geared towards providing insight and guidance on the latest trends in revenue generation for media companies and to provide a place for collaboration and networking among the participants and follow up after the event.

“Attendance at the Revenue Workshop resulted in exposure to various useful themes that were taken back to the organization along with strategic adoption of key focus areas for Daily Maverick in 2020”, says Daily Maverick publisher Styli Charalambous.

Tools and marketing in Joburg

In November SAMIP hosted two workshops at our offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg with the first being a showcase of Google News Lab’s tools and process by  visiting fellow Eugene Okumu. SAMIP participants were shown various Google products such as their online courses for journalists in areas that include investigative journalism and verification.

SAMIP then followed this up with a day-long workshop led by The Digital Ivy founder Claire Du Preez who guided our participants in developing marketing strategies for their businesses at the SAMIP offices. Delegates from Health-e News, gsport 4 girls, #SMWX, Hashtag our Stories and Not Yet Uhuru were in attendance.

“I’m feeling much more confident about my own methods of marketing, now that I know exactly how and what I should be questioning in my approach to our campaigns,” says Not Yet Uhuru social media coordinator T.K.

Podcasting in Poland

Way further up north SAMIP participants Volume, Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), and Daily Maverick attended the MDIF/MAS’ podcasting study tour to Agora (the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza) in Warsaw, Poland.

Several media outlets from Asia, Africa, and Europe were brought together to learn more about how Agora has managed to establish a strong podcasting presence in a short period of time with some excellent results that could be very inspiring for others.

The study tour provided an opportunity for delegates to: gain insight into revenue and production strategies for podcasts; how to consider various podcast formats and the resources required to produce each format; approaches to post-production; and audience development strategies for podcasts.

Products thinking in Mumbai

And on the other side of the world we sent delegates from ViewFinder, SMWX, Health-e News and gsport for girls to a two-day workshop in Mumbai, India that again hosted by MDIF/MAS. This time the focus was on content and product design for publishers.

Attendees of the workshop were also taught steps they should take to consider and implement when introducing a new product offering to audiences, advertisers and the internal team.

Each participating organization presented a short presentation on their current work or challenges faced in presenting new offers in terms of growth and scale. Following the workshop was a collaborative exercise of sharing of experiences, advice, and examples of case studies, and best industry examples.

Participant highlights

During this past month CRF was took home silver prize in the Global Youth and News Media category at the News Decoder Awards. They were lauded for their innovative approach to an HIV/Aids comprehension campaign.

As we barrel through the final month of 2019 SAMIP will be hosting a meeting of the Advisory Committee meeting in December 2019 in Johannesburg to select the next round of entrants to the program. To apply for Entry into SAMIP, fill in the enquiry form on the SAMIP website. Follow us on Twitter at @SAMIP_MDIF for updates and more information.

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

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.

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.

 

Remember remember the month of November

In South Africa the month of November is punctuated with fireworks during Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by the local Hindi population, and Guy Fawkes, a British celebration that still brings out the cracker enthusiasts in our country.

The South Africa Media Innovation had its own explosive month with events and developments galore. It’s hard to think that our small program is just one year old with all the work done with our grantees and our interactions with our partners in the media.

The main highlight for the program were the awards our grantees bagged at the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Africa Awards which took place after the conference which was held in Sandton on 23 November. Several of our grantees were nominated in categories ranging from Best Digital StartUp, Best Data Visualization and Best Reader Revenue Initiative.

The grantees that walked away awards were:

Daily Maverick: runner up for Best Website, runner up for Best Reader Revenue Initiative

Hashtag Our SA:  runner up for Best use of Online Video

Children’s Radio Foundation: winner of Best Innovation for Youth Engagement

We’re proud of our grantees for all they have achieved this past year.

During the conference our program manager, Bilal Randeree, sat with Frayintermedia founder and managing director Paula Fray to discuss media entrepreneurship which is at the heart of what we do.

In collaboration Code for Africa SAMIP held another round of Perfect Pitch, this time in the Mother City. The theme for this run was innovative revenue models which SAMIP is in search of as we continue to add to our growing cohort of participants.

We saw six great pitches, including a wildcard submission from CfAfrica’s very own program manager Ashlin Simpson. Our judges featured our usual shark, MDIF entrepreneur in residence, Matthew Buckland, SAMIP advisory committee member Dinesh Balliah and CfAfrica’s program director Chris Roper.

At the end of session three winners emerged: The Good Tree, Radcast and Podmeet.

After our short detour in Cape Town our program officer and assistant (Siyabonga Africa and Lerato Mashianoke) traveled to the Eastern Cape where Highway Africa 2018 was held in Makana (Grahamstown).

Our program officer took part in the conference where he delivered the keynote speech on the final day of the conference and participated in a panel discussion on media entrepreneurship.

Back in Cape Town the Open Society Foundation South Africa held its 25th anniversary celebrations which featured tributes to its founder George Soros. As one of two programs being funded by OSF-SA, SAMIP got a mention by OSF vice-president Patrick Gaspard who was at the launch of our program last year.

November was quite the month for us and we look forward to the close of the year and the start of an even better more impactful 2019.

SAMIP grantees make a splash at WAN-IFRA awards

South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) grantees The Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), Hashtag our SA and Daily Maverick walked away with top prizes and as runners ups in four categories at the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Africa awards on Friday 23 November.

The awards ceremony was held after the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Africa conference which took place in Sandton. The conference covered topics on paid content and business models as the news and information industry faces shrinking revenue streams and challenges in running their businesses.

CRF was awarded the top prize in the category for Best Innovation in Engaging Youth Audiences. This was for their WhatsApp integration project that they were awarded a grant of R500,000 by SAMIP. This past year the Foundation has been busy developing strategies and processes for community radio stations to utilise WhatsApp in their reporting and community engagement.

In late September our Program Assistant, Lerato Mashianoke, attended their Youth Lab Awards that were held in Cape Town. The awards recognised some of the innovative ways their youth reporters have been using WhatsApp since their project began.

Hashtag our SA was awarded as a runner up in the category for Best use of Mobile Video. The startup founders Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar have been building a network of mobile video journalists around South Africa. Hashtag our SA intern, Thembele Nkosi, was attending in the founder’s place whilst they’re completing their incubation at Yellow Inc, a SnapChat initiative that saw them getting $150,000 (R2.08 million) in funding from the video platform.

Daily Maverick was also a runner up in the categories for Best News Website and Best Reader Revenue Initiative. Daily Maverick was awarded a grant by SAMIP to develop their membership plan, Insider, which has already seen them getting revenue from their subscribers.

SAMIP grantee Digest was also finalist in the category for of Best Data Visualisation. Digest has been growing their “fun”-nancial newsletter with a new website and coverage of topical economic stories in South Africa.

The awards showcased the best in digital news media in South Africa and SAMIP is proud of the accomplishments of its grantees.

Heritage month highlights digital tools and big news for SAMIP

During September South Africa celebrates its heritage. With more than eleven official languages and numerous cultures and religions calling this young democracy home, the ninth month of the year is festival of colours and traditional outfits as the people of the country showcase their various backgrounds.

And that vibrancy can be seen with our nine (and soon to be more) grantees who continue to do good work through their projects and organizations.

The big news of September was the selection of Hashtag Our Stories to participate in Snap Chat’s inaugural incubation program Yellow Inc. Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar join eight other companies in Venice, California where they will be experimenting with Snap Chat’s platform and tools to create new experiences and programmes for the mobile video company.

If you are looking for other tools to help you tell your heritage story why not download Open Up SA’s Pocket Reporter. The tool has been expanded and populated with more languages and templates for journalists to create stories on the fly. Think of it as having a news editor in your pocket. Pocket Reporter trainer Raymond Joseph has also started a Facebook page and Twitter account to share links to other digital tools that journalists and storytellers can add to their arsenal.

The Children’s Radio Foundation has seen the results of its WhatsApp project coming to fruition with some innovative uses of the chat app by their youth reporters. In August the young reporters based in Alex FM used WhatsApp to report on and gather voice clips on the “Walk for Mandela” walkabout in the Johannesburg CDB.

Upcoming Events

As the year enters its final stage SAMIP will be present at a number of media events and conferences.

AIJC 2018

SAMIP and its grantees will be participating in the African Investigative Journalism Conference that will be taking place at Wits University at the end of October. The conference is a gathering of journalists, media professionals and stakeholders from around the continent. SAMIP will be participating in the conference’s half-day workshop on sustainability and business models.

Media Indaba 2018

Following on the footsteps of last year’s successful Media Indaba gathering in Cape Town, SAMIP will also have a presence at Media Indaba 2018 towards the end of November. Once again the team will be bringing some insights on sustainability and business models in news.

Inquiries

The program has closed general entry applications but we are still open to inquiries that can be submitted via our website. We will be continuing our work in the coming three years and we hope to empower more innovative news media projects and organizations as our program grows.