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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.

SAMIP participants keep tabs on growing coronavirus cases

As South Africa crossed the 100-day mark since the national lockdown was announced the country is now seeing a surge in confirmed cases with the number of people who’ve been infected reaching more than 230,000. This is serious news and our participants have been covering the developments.

Data journalism start-up Media Hack Collective’s coronavirus  dashboard has all the latest statistics on the number of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries. The number of active cases is now 121,558 and deaths have gone up to 3,720. On the other hand the country has seen more than 113,000 recoveries which should offer some solace.

gsport for girls goes global

SAMIP participant gsport for girls is now well into their plans for the 2020 Momentum gsport Awards with entries now open. The women’s sports platform recently announced their global expansion with the kick-off of the #gsportGlobal initiative.

The initiative includes the addition of a new gsport chapter in Surat, India as well as the addition of African and Global award categories that will be announced at this year’s awards.

Podcasts new and current

Our participants are also hard at work in developing new podcasts and releasing new episodes of current shows.

The Daily Vox’s ‘Critical Stans’ show released their latest episode that saw them dive into the issue of One Direction’s Zayn Malik and what the singer means to fans of the group who are people of color.

Not Yet Uhuru’s podcast on women empowerment, ‘What’s Love Podcast’, took on the topic of child maintenance and the various issues around it. Food for Mzansi’s podcast, ‘Farmer’s Inside Track’, featured interviews with up and coming agriculture entrepreneurs and thought-leaders. Their latest podcast for children, ‘Thandi and Captain Safe’, discussed how young learners can stay safe as the pandemic continues in the country.

Volume released a new show, called ‘Access’, that they are producing for the Health Justice Initiative (HJI). The HJI is a recently established law and policy unit that was founded by former Open Society Foundation of South Africa director Fatima Hassan.

Our participants continue to make us proud as they break stories, explain issues and drive innovation in South Africa’s media landscape.

SAMIP’s participants top the charts and empower citizens

South Africa has now been under lockdown for 60 days with no end in sight. Despite the odds, the South Africa Media Innovation Program’s participants have continued the hard work of reporting the news and creating innovative products.

In this week’s episode of Food For Mzansi’s weekly podcast, Farmer’s Inside Track, the digital startup speaks focuses on the importance of indigenous crops. Qinisani Qwabe, an agricultural researcher and soybean farmer, speaks about his love for indigenous vegetables – traditional crops that have been family favourites for decades. Farmer’s Inside Track recently reached the top of Apple Podcast’s business and entrepreneurship podcasts.

Media Diaries highlights Hashtag Our Stories’ new kind of journalism

This week’s episode of Media Diaries: Covid-19 Edition looks focuses on Hashtag Our Stories, a citizen journalism organisation that has gathered together a global network of storytellers, trained them to use their mobile phones to create videos, and post them on social media platforms for millions of people. This series started 8 weeks ago when the lockdown began and it’s still not over. With any luck, there will be a second season.

Empowering you when getting into a lease agreement

Not Yet Uhuru’s latest episode of What’s Love?! focuses on one woman’s struggle with residential harassment. What’s Love?! is a feminist podcast series that empowers South African women with knowledge about love, money, and economic equality. In this episode, financial expert Magauta Mphahlele helps Melanie deal with getting harassed by her neighbour. A must-listen for anyone who is getting into a lease agreement!

Public-health star Dr T part of a growing community of women

QuoteThisWoman+, a non-profit committed to getting more women’s voices heard in South African media, now offers a database of more than 70 expert women’s voices to help journalists understand the impact of COVID-19 on our society. Their latest newsletter profiles gender commissioner, medical doctor, and author Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng.

Appreciating frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Frontline workers are working hard to take us out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, The Daily Vox profiles Bhelekazi Mdlalose, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders assisting in the government’s contact tracing programme.

Coronavirus in South Africa dashboard

As of 22 May, South Africa has conducted over 525 000 tests and recorded over  19000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There have also been 369 deaths and 8950 recoveries. Media Hack Collective’s Coronavirus in South Africa dashboard has all the latest update on COVID-19.

Viewfinder’s accountability journalism gets the Taco Kuiper nod

As South Africans hope for a further easing of the lockdown and a gradual opening of the economy, three of SAMIP’s participants were shortlisted for the 2019 Taco Kuiper Award for investigative journalism – Daneel Knoetze of Viewfinder, Pauli van Wyk of the Daily Maverick and Sipho Kings from the Mail & Guardian.

It marks a highlight in a week where SAMIP participants continued to keep audiences up to date with the latest news, updates and analysis of the day.

Viewfinder, a South African investigative journalism startup, was named as one of the top four finalists of the Taco Kuiper Award for their investigations of police abuses of power and failing oversight. Viewfinder’s work was also featured this week on the Media Diaries podcast, co-produced by SAMIP participant Volume:

QuoteThisWoman+ now features over 60 women experts to speak on the public health crisis


QuoteThisWoman+, a non-profit start-up that is committed to getting more women’s voices heard in South African media, now offers a database of 64 expert women’s voices to help journalists navigate stormy COVID-19 waters. Their latest newsletter features experts that can speak to public health, the future of work, Africa’s pandemic trajectory, and a host of other issues.

COVID-19 information challenges for rural farmers

In this week’s episode of Food For Mzansi’s weekly farmers’ podcast, Farmer’s Inside Track, the digital media startup speaks to 25-year-old Andile Ngcobo on how limited access to information about COVID-19 has impacted the rural village in which he farms.

Tracking the uptick in infections, death and recoveries

The Coronavirus in South Africa dashboard by Media Hack Collective continues to provide updates on COVID-19 national and provincial infection, death and recoveries rates. Media Hack Collective is a data journalism and digital storytelling organization that aims to make data understandable for a wider audience.

 

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.

‘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.