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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.

Hashtag Our Stories nets Snap Inc investment

Hashtag Our Stories, a participant in the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP), has been selected by Snapchat to take part in its inaugural incubator program Yellow. The incubation comes with $150,000 (R2.3m) in funding and business education in exchange for equity.

The Hashtag Our Stories team, Sumaiya and Yusuf Omar, will be incubated at Yellow’s offices in Venice just outside of Los Angeles, United States. During the three-month incubation they will experiment with Snapchat technology in line with their project that amplifies citizen journalism.

Hashtag our Stories was selected as a participant in SAMIP through its Innovation Challenge that ran late 2017. The program is an initiative that aims to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media outlets across South Africa.

“We are proud of Hashtag our Stories’ achievement which is a testament to the innovative thinking and approach by Yusuf and Sumaiya,” says Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) Program Director for Africa Bilal Randeree, “We look forward to seeing great things in their future.”

SAMIP provides funding and capacity building to help innovative media organisations find and tell impactful stories and develop new and sustainable business models. It was set up in 2017 by Media Development Investment Fund, a US-based not-for-profit investment fund for independent media around the world that provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies. The program is co-funded by the Open Society Foundation of South Africa and Omidyar Network.

Doing it for Madiba

The month of July has been dedicated to former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who’s sacrifice and work during the Apartheid era and into South Africa’s democratic freedom inspired millions. At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we have been inspired to find more ways to assist in the democratisation of our media space by supporting independent media.

Throughout the month of July the program has been hard at work with its grantees and beyond on ways to be conducive in the growth of a free press.

One of our grantees, Hashtag Our SA, participated in the biggest cleanup to take place on African continent. More than 6,000 people across nine different countries participated in this effort.

Our other grantees have also been busy throughout the month of July participating in media events and conferences to showcase their work and expertise.

Radio Days Africa

The largest radio conference on the African continent, Radio Days Africa, took place during the first week of July. The conference brought together stakeholders and interested parties in the radio and broadcasting space for a series of presentations and discussions about the industry and its future.

Three of our grantees, Children’s Radio Foundation, Volume and Soul City, had a presence at the conference where they got to present their projects and lead panel discussions.

Soul City presented their feminist platform, Not Yet Uhuru which will be seeing a big launch in the near future. The platform will feature discussions on topics such as  sex, friendship, alcohol abuse, financial independence and life in general.

Volume co-founder Paul McNally sat on an innovation panel on the last day of the conference where the future of the radio industry was discussed.

SAMIP at Hacks/Hackers

Our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, spoke at Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg’s media entrepreneurism event: How to be a media entrepreneur. The night was dedicated to discussing entrepreneurism in the news media space and how one can get involved in it.

Former Huffington Post SA editor-in-chief Verashni Pillay was also present to share on her experience with the news site that has now been shuttered by Media24. Pillay also touched on opportunities for startups in the media space and what is missing in the South African context.

General Entry

The program has officially closed applications for general entry. We started the process at the end of March this year and since then we have received more than 50 applications from some amazing projects, startups and organizations.

Our advisory committee deliberated on the finalists and we will update the public with regards to their decision once it has been approved by our board in New York City.

Moving forward

Now that general entry has closed the program will be taking inquiries for the foreseeable future. The inquiries are means for us to stay informed with regards to what interesting projects or organizations are out there in the independent media space.

As the year enters its final two quarters SAMIP will be working on providing capacity building initiatives for its grantees and our partners. We also will be attending some major media events in the upcoming months including: Media Indaba 2018 and the African Investigative Journalism Conference. We look forward to seeing and interacting with you all there.

May in review: Press Freedom in South Africa

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated earlier 03 May. According the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the date has been earmarked to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

According to the Reporters without Borders South Africa ranks 28th in world and third on the African continent on it’s World Press Freedom Index. South Africa’s position on this index is due to the country’s liberal constitution which enshrines freedom of expression and with it freedom of the press.

But apartheid-era legislation and the 2004 terrorism laws have been used to limit coverage of government institutions when “national interest” is supposedly at stake. Since 2015 the country has seen journalists being harassed and subjected to intimidation campaigns whilst covering the ruling ANC, government finances, the redistribution of land to the black population or the #Guptaleaks affair, all which are either off limits or provoke a hostile reaction from the authorities.

Now, more than ever, independent news media is needed not only in South Africa but the world. The South Africa Media Innovation Program is proud to be a part of the effort to promote press freedom and growth through our initiative that has provided grant funding to, so far, nine organizations and is still looking for more to fund in the near future

Notable Highlights

SAMIP advisory committee member and Wits Journalism lecturer Dinesh Balliah was named as one judges for the Forum for Community Journalist Awards 2017. Balliah will be judging the digital journalist category alongside SABC Digital News editor in chief Izak Minnaar.

Volume Media launched a new website. The startup, that was founded by Paul McNally and Roland Perron, remains committed in growing the community radio space in South Africa and has partnered with a number of local radio stations and NGOs in efforts to gather and broadcast hyperlocal stories.

Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar, from Hashtag our SA, were profiled by Business Insider. For the work they’ve done all over the world. The two continue to grow the mobile journalism space through training workshops and partnerships with universities.

Throughout the month of June the SAMIP will be going through applications for general entry as the program expands on its current cohort of participants. Remember to submit your organization or project to potentially get in our exciting initiative.