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Daily Maverick goes to the presses

With the official launch of a new print title for one of our participants, a shout-out in the New York Times for another, and new products and milestones besides, there’s been no shortage of excitement in the SAMIP family. Here are a few of the highlights.

DM goes to the presses (and keeps winning at podcasts)

This was a big week for SAMIP participant Daily Maverick. On Saturday, the digital news publication officially launched their new print product Daily Maverick 168 at selected Pick n Pay outlets nationwide.

Daily Maverick 168 is a welcome addition to the print industry that has seen long-running publications being shuttered. Former SAMIP Advisory Committee member Pontsho Pilane wrote a feature on some of the key innovations behind the title.

This week the Daily Maverick also released the latest episode of the second season of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, their flagship podcast “telling stories behind stories to provide a new perspective and new insights”.

This week’s episode discusses the battle to use technology to save South Africa’s schooling.  To date season two has been at number one on the “News” category in Apple Podcasts for the last few weeks and is currently at number six for Apple Podcasts in SA.

New York Times highlights Viewfinder’s work

Last week SAMIP participant Viewfinder was featured in a New York Times report on police brutality in South Africa. The Times drew on Viewfinder’s insights on the death of disabled teenager Nathaniel Julies, who was allegedly killed by police in his community in Eldorado Park, and interviewed Viewfinder’s editor in chief Daneel Knoetze on the struggles for accountability in police killings. This is another mark of  the significant expertise that the investigative start-up has established on police brutality since its launch last year; more recently they have shone a spotlight on the injustices perpetuated by the police during South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown.

The Daily Vox reminds us why we celebrate Heritage Day

Youth digital publication, The Daily Vox, joined South Africans in marking Heritage Day with a special newsletter edition. The Daily Vox builds on its tradition of incisive social commentary in the special edition by examining the significance of this public holiday, why we celebrate it, and what people think about the day.

gsport’s global initiative marks an important milestone

Women’s sports platform gsport for girls celebrated the one year anniversary of their international campaign, #Gsportglobal. gsport co-founder Kass Naidoo reflects on their first international sports reporting at the women’s cricket tour in India, their journey and experience, and the Momentum Gsport awards.


Food for Mzansi brings food to aspiring cooks

Agri-business news site Food for Mzansi has started a new weekly newsletter aimed at foodies, Mzansi Flavour. The newsletter features recipes for different diets and interviews with well-known and up-and-coming South African chefs.

You can sign up for the Mzansi Flavor weekly newsletter here.

DM168: how a membership model helped a digital news org go analog

As the news media struggles in its shift from print to digital, Daily Maverick’s bold move from digital to print followed the success of its membership program, writes Pontsho Pilane

In a tumultuous time for the media industry globally, one of South Africa’s most popular digital-first-and-only news publications, Daily Maverick, has drawn international attention with its launch of a print weekly.

Daily Maverick 168 (the 168, according to the team, makes reference to the number of hours in a week) is set to launch in late September, via the country’s second-largest supermarket chain, Pick n Pay. Shoppers who use Pick n Pay’s loyalty card can get their copy at no charge, while other shoppers will pay just over one US dollar (R20).

While the digital brand’s bold plan to go “back into the future” with a print edition has made waves – a pilot edition was released earlier this month, to glowing reviews – the seemingly counter-intuitive move follows the longer-term success of Daily Maverick’s membership programme, Maverick Insider.

Launched in 2018, drawing on support from the Membership Puzzle Project, Maverick Insider now boasts over 13,000 members and covers nearly 40% of Daily Maverick’s growing payroll. This growth is the cornerstone of the new products Daily Maverick has introduced over the past two years. (Membership Puzzle Project’s case study on Maverick Insider reports that the program makes up 25% of DM’s revenue.)

“We’re completely invested in membership as a particularly attractive and potentially successful solution to the sustainability problem that media news around the world have,” says CEO Styli Charalambous.

Charalambous says the newsroom has almost doubled in size over the last two years — another uncommon trend in the media industry, with most of the country’s newsrooms shrinking and even the most popular print titles feeling the pinch. In 2018, the circulation of South Africa’s top-selling daily newspaper, the Daily Sun, dropped by 20% and earlier this year announced it will be scaling back its national distribution and discontinuing its sister paper, Sunday Sun.

The decision to go analog when everyone is going digital is not one Daily Maverick’s team made lightly. “Over the last five years, we have been thinking really hard about what is the best way that we can get our long-form journalism into the hands of people who enjoy it, and print has always been one of the avenues that we felt would be a good outlet for that,” Charalambous explains.

Knowing the outlet has at least 13,000 supporters made the decision to start publishing a newspaper a no-brainer, he adds. Unlike a completely new player in the media industry, Daily Maverick has an established brand, and an existing audience made up of loyal readers and members.

“Our members were the first people we told about Maverick 168. We made it clear that we’re going to need their support in order for it to be successful and sustainable, except that this time it’s not going to cost a cent because of the partnership with Pick n Pay,” says Charalambous.

Partnering with Pick n Pay was a decision of convenience and exploiting an already great business partnership with the brand, he adds. Copies of Maverick 168 are predicted to move from the shelves because the publication’s research has shown that most of its members and readers shop at Pick n Pay.

Charalambous says the partnership with Pick n Pay is also an attempt to reach a new audience — one that may otherwise not buy a weekly newspaper because of their cost.

Maverick 168’s editor Heather Robertson says she had not foreseen having to launch the newspaper during a pandemic, but she’s convinced that Daily Maverick is more than up to the task. “We’re not re-inventing the wheel. We’re going to use our existing resources and exact same staff to provide the content for the newspaper. What is going to be different, obviously, is that newspapers are designed on different programs and need to be laid out, but we’re leveraging on the existing systems,” she explains.

The weekly newspaper has two 16 page sections — one for news, opinion, business and sport, and a tabloid section for lifestyle content. The newspaper will use some of the content that will be on the website through repurposing and repackaging, she explains. But the aim is to have unique front-page investigations that are exclusive to the print product.

For media studies scholar Dr Prinola Govenden, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study, a new addition to South Africa’s print titles is a positive development.

“A new newspaper could mean more voices, more perspectives. It could also mean more jobs. However, I do caution that just because there’s another newspaper it doesn’t automatically mean it brings diversity,” says Govenden.

Daily Maverick says it’s going to provide powerhouse experts and quality analysis which is good, but that doesn’t mean providing media coverage and content for the ordinary citizen, or for people with a certain literacy level?” says Govenden.

While debates about the future of print media continue among industry and academic circles, one thing is clear: with its launch into print, Daily Maverick is willing to take a chance that few are willing to – or can afford to. It seems unlikely that this move could have been possible without years of work on building up a community of members willing to invest in the organization and its journalism. Whether Maverick 168 is a success or a failure, it offers the industry new insights that could in the future unlock a viable revenue stream for media producers.

Pontsho Pilane is a freelance writer, and former news editor at Health-e News and the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. She debuted as a journalist at The Daily Vox, where she wrote primarily about gender, race and how they intersect. @pontsho_pilane

Pivoting to webinars – 5 lessons for small media orgs

As media organisations race to adapt to life under lockdown, many are turning to online events – to reconnect with audiences, make up for lost revenue, or to establish themselves as agenda-setters on the key questions of the day.

Last week, the South African Media Innovation Program convened an online conversation with four media outlets – the Daily Maverick, the Mail & Guardian, Food for Mzansi, and Bhekisisa, to discuss what they’ve learned in the past six weeks as they pivoted to hosting online events. Yes: we had a webinar about webinars.

If you missed the event, here are a few big takeaways.

1. There’s revenue in them hills

Fran Beighton, who heads up the Daily Maverick’s Maverick Insider community, told us that DM never set out to turn webinars into a revenue-making exercise. The first goal was simply to connect with members. But, she said, once her team started organising events, sponsors quickly came forward – suggesting that even ad spending has dried up across many sectors, advertisers are still looking for somewhere to go. According to Fran, in the weeks since South Africa’s lockdown began, Maverick Insiders has hosted webinars and online discussions that netted anywhere between R0 and R35,000 in sponsorship per event. Their main cost – a R13,000 yearly subscription to WebinarJam.

2. It’s easier than you think

Taahir Hoorzook, CFO for the Mail & Guardian, told us that the organisation understood the need to move to online events – M&G’s physical events had made up 30% of its revenue – but at first they’d been hesitant to dive in. “We overthought it for the first few days,” he said. But after getting quotes from production companies that ran to tens of thousands of rands, the M&G team realised it would have to organise the webinars themselves.

The lesson learned, according to Taahir: “It’s easier than you think.” After getting a trial version of WebinarJam, the M&G hosted its first webinar in late April – a discussion on the psychological impact of Covid19, in partnership with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. Since then, the organisation has hosted at least one online event per week, with commercial partners ranging from the South African Human Rights Commission to e-learning giant GetSmarter.

3. It doesn’t need to cost

While the other outlets opted to pay for webinar software, Bhekisisa hosted their recent webinar with two leading coronavirus experts on an ordinary Zoom call. More than 1400 people tuned into Bhekisisa’s interview with Quarraisha and Salim Abdool Karim, two of the scientists helping to guide South Africa’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In their input to SAMIP’s discussion, Bhekisisa’s Rosaline Daniel and Gopolang Makou explained how they used rigorous pre-planning, and some of Zoom’s more advanced features, to ensure a smooth-running event that was free from disruption. Ros and Gopolang later shared some of their tips on the Bhekisisa blog.

4. Great things can happen

Kobus Louwrens, co-founder of Food For Mzansi – a digital media outlet catering to small-scale farmers and agribusinesses – shared how #TeamFFM went from complete webinar newbies to hosting a wildly successful event in less than a week. When lockdown hit South Africa, Food For Mzansi had been forced to cancel a series of events planned for a roadshow in April and May. By mid April, they had struck a deal with an agribank to sponsor a half-day online event to discuss how the pandemic would affect the agricultural sector, which would be hosted on GoToWebinar. (Cost: starting at R2000 per month.)

“Expectations were low,” he said – webinars are uncommon in the agri space, and they anticipated a minimum of 70 people attending. In the end, over 1300 people joined the event, a success that Kobus attributes in part to right-place-right-timeness of the topic, and in part to the fact that many of Food For Mzansi’s audiences live in small towns and rural areas that have historically been left out of such events.

5. Experiment, adjust, repeat

Each of these outlets has found a way to make webinars work to their advantage, but that doesn’t mean it’s all gone smoothly. Everyone’s had their share of webinar woes – from dodgy internet connections, to panelists having to cancel at the last minute.

What’s worked for each of them is a willingness to forge ahead with webinars, learning as they go – knowing that every mistake is a lesson for what to do differently the next time.

In the likely event that the world stays socially distant for the foreseeable future, there will be plenty of time to practice.

Myth-busting and fact-checking Covid-19 in South Africa

As this piece is being written South Africa has just been informed that the national lock-down that was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa more than two weeks ago has been extended by another two weeks meaning that the country, it’s society and economy will continue to be shuttered.

This move, whilst dire for all, is a bold one. And in this time of uncertainty rumors, myths, disinformation and misinformation are bound to rise in volume and distribution.

In this space SAMIP participants such as The Daily Vox are trying to counter false narratives with information. This week the youth-site published a myth-busting piece that looked at some of the most commonly shared false stories around Covid-19 such as the fact that it’s just like the common flu, spraying alcohol and chlorine on one’s body to combat the virus and who is the susceptible to the virus.

Volume, in collaboration with Africa Check, is hard at work on fact-checking mis- and disinformation on WhatsApp through their ‘What’s Crap on WhatsApp’ WhatsApp channel and podcast. This week they dispelled the following rumors on the chat app:

|FACT FLASH| Here’s “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?” today:

🔒 This photo doesn’t show Kenyans waiting for the coronavirus curfew crackdown. It’s from 2011. READ: https://bit.ly/3aZqCe0

🇺🇸 Did former US president Obama warn Africans against coronavirus vaccines? No! READ: https://bit.ly/3c0sRxv

🔎 Find all our coronavirus fact-checks in one place: https://bit.ly/3dzSN4E

💩 Listen to previous episodes of “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?” on our website: www.whatscrap.africa

Critical and missing information on demand

The lock-down has also caused a lot confusion for South Africans: from when people can leave their houses to access services to the ramifications of having to shelter in place.

Civic technologists Open Up SA released an innovative product for South Africans looking for information on evictions during the lock-down period.

The Soul City Institute for Social Justice also tweeted out information on where vulnerable people (especially women and children) could go should they need to report abuse of power by the police and gender-based violence.

How to shoot video in a pandemic

With the lock-down in place journalists and newsrooms are considered essential services and have the privilege of getting around where others can’t. But if you’re a small newsroom or start-up without the proper press credentials you may find yourself relying on user-generated content which comes with its own trade-offs and pay-offs.

Hashtag our Stories will be hosting a webinar on 15 April where co-founders Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar will be discussing how you can cover a global pandemic like Covid-19 without leaving your home.

In the masterclass, Hashtag Our Stories show participants how they are reaching millions of people with Covid-19 stories created entirely with user-generated content.

Feeding the nation and loving in a time of Corona

While most of us are sheltered in place other essential workers such as retail store workers who stock and sanitize our shops as well as farmers and farm workers are keeping the supply chains moving in order to make sure we can still purchase food during the lockdown.

Agri-business news site Food for Mzansi shone a light on those people who keep our shop’s shelves stocked up with the essentials we need during this time. Food for Mzansi is the subject of episode 3 in Volume’s podcast series on media workers and media work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also meant disruption in our relationships and episode 2 of Daily Maverick’s recently launched podcast ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ looks at how the lock-down has impacted people in terms of separating them from their loved ones.

At this point no-one knows when the lock-down will end and how the world will look when the pandemic is over. But throughout it all journalists and newsrooms, like the ones in our program and beyond, will do their best to keep everyone informed and educated.

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.

SAMIP participants get to grips with Coronavirus reporting

The novel Coronavirus pandemic (known as Covid-19) is has had a global impact that finally hit South Africa’s shores in towards the end of February. It goes without saying that this pandemic has already begun changing our way of life.

The media industry, both at home and abroad, has stepped up to provide up-to-the minute reporting on the growing number of people being infected with the virus as well looking for novel ways to cover how this disease has changed how we interact and conduct our day-to-day affairs. Our participants are no exception in this mission to provide innovative and timely news and information on Covid-19.

Media Hack Collective’s data dashboard

Data journalism startup Media Hack Collective (MHC), in collaboration with Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, developed a dashboard this past weekend to keep track of confirmed Coronavirus infections in South Africa.

MHC co-founder Alastair Otter  says that they made the dashboard publicly available on Monday and by that evening there were as many as 100 people viewing the dashboard at any one time.

“Tuesday morning peaked at 200 concurrent users. Now, on Thursday morning, we have just passed 30,000 views of the dashboard, in just under three days.”

The dashboard displays measurements that include daily infections, a breakdown of age groups of those infected and where the virus has spread in the country among other indicators.

For updates on their dashboard and projects sign up for their weekly newsletter.

Notable highlights

Digital publisher Daily Maverick launched a pop-up newsletter on the impact the Coronavirus is having on SA and our government’s response. The newsletter comes out once a day and is a special edition of theirMaverick Insider newsletter that goes out to members of their membership plan.

isiZulu news publisher Igunundu Press has been providing coverage of the viral outbreak in isiZulu publishing several features on Covid-19 in the latest edition of their flagship publication Bayede News and discussing it on their podcast Ikundla Yabantu Radio.

Youth news site The Daily Vox continues to report on the tertiary education sector and in recent days they’ve begun covering how Covid-19 has impacted higher education as some universities close their doors for early breaks due to the virus.

And if you are looking for information on how best to look after yourself during this period Health-e News released a video on do’s and don’ts when trying to prevent yourself from contracting Coronavirus.

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As the weeks go by we will continue to highlight the stellar work being done by our participants and partners as we deal with the Coronavirus.

New Year, New beginnings

January is the month of new beginnings and this year it’s the start of a new decade too. It’s hard to believe that our program has been running for the past three years and we look forward to new year of good work and progress.

At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we kicked off the new decade with a new set of additions to our cohort of participants and a reinvigorated mission to transform and innovate in the South African media space.

Kicking off the year to a good start

With the new entrants selected we held our annual kick-off event in Johannesburg where our participants got the chance to present to each other. The presentations took the form of pitches allowing the organizations to showcase their products and services, challenges and successes thus far.

It was inspiring to see how many presentations we had to go through, a testament to the growth of our program which started with nine participants and is now sitting with more than 15 in our portfolio.

During the presentations we got to hear about: how Daily Maverick’s membership plan, Maverick Insider, has grown from strength to strength; Health-e News who celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2019; gsport for girls who launched a new monthly award for news makers in women’s sports; Volume who released the latest season of their true crime podcast ‘Alibi’; and Igunundu Press who are experimenting with multimedia in isiZulu.

2020 onward

2020 promises to be both a challenging and yet rewarding year for us. Our focus over the next 11 months will be on sustainability, revenue generation, podcasting, newsletters and much more. We look forward to seeing it through and seeing you all at events and conferences as we work towards supporting media in South Africa and beyond.

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.

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.

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.