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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.

Women’s voices are highlighted by SAMIP participants during lockdown

As South Africa entered lockdown level four last week Friday, with a slight easing of restrictions on movement and economic activity, SAMIP participants have continued their work, documenting aspects of life under lockdown.

This week’s Media Diaries: COVID-19 edition podcast features Quote This Woman+ (QW+), a media organization committed to getting more women’s voices heard in South African media across a wide range of subjects. In this episode, Volume explores what it takes to change the media landscape, particularly with how QW+ represents women, and how they deal with the cold during the lockdown in KwaZulu-Natal. In the past few weeks, Media Diaries featured SAMIP participants, #SMWX, Scrolla, Food For Mzansi, Media Hack Collective, and Health e-News.

Keeping up with the COVID-19 hygiene protocols

More people returned to work on Monday and the taxi industry saw an increase in activity under the lockdown level four restrictions. Health-e-News, a digital health news organization reported on the challenges faced by the public transport sector in South Africa in keeping up with the COVID-19 hygiene protocols. The health news media house reported that taxi industries in the Free State, North West, and Limpopo are adhering to hygiene regulations while others are facing challenges such as passengers not wearing masks and shortage of sanitizers.

Showcasing acts of kindness

SAMIP participant Hashtag Our Stories (HOS), a mobile Journalism organization that aims to share global stories from people’s perspectives introduced a COVID 19 kindness series. The series will showcase how people are making a difference in combating COVID-19 challenges. The first video shows how volunteers in Cape Town and Durban distribute meals to the homeless to fight hunger during COVID-19 and social distancing.

Keeping track of the COVID-19 numbers

COVID-19 infection numbers are expected to increase during the lockdown level four period that started on Monday. More people are expected to go back to work as an attempt to slowly open the economy. Media Hack Collective (MHC) data journalism and digital storytelling organization launched a Coronavirus in South Africa DASHBOARDduring stage five of lockdown and continues to provide the updated COVID-19 national and provincial confirmed cases, deaths and test conducted in South Africa.

Engaging people in official languages that are underserved

Scrolla joins SAMIP participant Igunundu Press in publishing news in a vernacular language. Scrolla is a news start-up that redefines the mobile-first user experience by publishing investigations in a series of short updates that are posted daily. Scrolla initially published news in English and this week the mobile-first media house adds isiZulu to its platform. Scrolla launched an isiZulu channel on Ayoba.

‘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.

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 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.

Freedom of expression through innovation

April is Freedom Month in South Africa as the country commemorates the first democratic elections that were held in 1994. During this time of reflection it’s pertinent to remember one of the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, that was adopted in 1996 under the Bill of Rights, is the right to freedom of expression which what empowers the free press in South Africa.

The South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) is honoured to participate in the growth of the news media industry through our initiatives in grant funding and capacity building. During April the program was hard at work guiding our current cohort of participants by matching them with mentors from the industry and providing them with insights in their projects.

We also began meeting with potential entrants who submitted their applications for general entry into our program. General entry is still open and we welcome applications from mission-driven startups, projects and organisations who have an eye for growth and sustainability in the field of work they’ve chosen.

Notable Highlights – client stories

Our grantees continue to put in good work as they push hard on progressing their respective projects and companies.

Hashtag Our Stories

At the beginning of April South Africa lost struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Hashtag Our Stories produced a video commemorating the late Mama Winnie which received more than 30,000 views on Facebook and Twitter.

Digest 

Digest: The “fun-nancial” newsletter has been hard at work delivering financial news in the quest of increasing financial literacy in South Africa. In the past month they launched a new website and have gone on to release their first e-book focusing on job hunting for new graduates. The e-book was the first in a series of publications on career progress and management.

The New Era

SAMIP was invited to attend the Association of Independent Publisher’s National Cooperative Training workshop. At the work shop Tom Nkosi was voted in chairperson of the AIP. Tom is the project leader on The New Era.

Soul City

Soul City CEO Lebo Mafoko and Activist Naledi Chirwa represented #NotYetUhuru at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women that took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018.

Events

SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa was invited to sit on a panel at the Journalism Media Lab’s (JamLab) open dialogue on “hacking” the media. The dialogue was sparked by major stories including: the managers of Gupta-bots, Cambridge Analytica stealing user data off of Facebook and the threat to the bottomline of newsrooms by owners of platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook.

Sitting on the panel with Siyabonga were Mail & Guardian editor Khadija Patel, Tiso Blackstar digital managing editor Riaan Wolmarans and JamLab director Indra de Lanerolle. The panel talked about a range of issues and threats to our industry but more than that they searched for answers to the questions that plague editors, publishers and broadcasters alike.

With the first quarter of the year behind us, SAMIP continues with its mission of accelerating the growth digital innovation in news media in South Africa and we look forward to engaging with stakeholders and entrepreneurs in the month of May.

Mo’ letters, mo’ work

 

As January came to a close and the month of love began, the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) has been working hard on not only getting our first cohort of participants into the program but also developing strategies for bringing on more participants and increasing our reach and impact.

In the first week of February SAMIP got to work on completing the grant letters for the winners of the Innovation Challenge. The letters would give the participants access to the funds they won through Challenge and also provide a roadmap for them to grow into sustainable projects and organisations.

Having made some meaningful connections during our first workshop held in Johannesburg in January, the participants were ready get started on their projects as well as form partnerships in order to gain necessary skills, connections and resources from one another.

Notable highlights

Since the beginning of the year some of the participants have gotten straight to work in developing content and progressing their projects. From registering company names, to outputting engaging content the first cohort has made some notable progress in their quest to become sustainable or profitable.

Hashtag Our Stories 

Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar have been hard at work in developing the mobile video content. They launched their local Facebook page (Hashtag Our SA) in the middle of January and throughout February they posted videos that have gone on to garner more than 220,000 views on Facebook. When the late Hugh Masekela passed away, in January, they were quick to post this moving tribute to the legend.

They not only post social videos like the one above but they’ve also been experimenting with informative content that touches on issues such as fake news and the Winter Olympics. We highly recommend following their page which will grow in leaps and bounds over the next year.

Digest

Another one of our participants has also undergone some restructuring in terms of their project. Digest is a financial newsletter aimed at millennials. The team has big plans to bring financial services and education to the youth of South Africa. Currently they have begun archiving their content for the public to view past updates which include breakdowns on what the president’s State of the Union Address means for the economy.

They have also posted interesting threads on Twitter on topics such as the cabinet reshuffle that president Cyril Ramaphosa announced this past month, all with an eye on the effects on the economy and ordinary citizens.

Events

Our team has been attending media events and assisting with the planning of a few as well.

Earlier in February our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, was invited to represent SAMIP in the planning meeting for the Duke Menell Media Exchange 2018 that will be taking place in June this year. The exchange is a great opportunity for the journalism and media community to meet and engage over pertinent issues in the industry. Several of our participants will be involved in the exchange as speakers and content developers.

Our program officer also attended the IAB Digital Summit, held in Kyalami this year, where media workers and thought leaders gathered to learn about the latest developments in the industry and to network.

General Applications Open

Finally SAMIP has opened applications for general entry into the program. Since the middle of February applications have been streaming in and the team is hard at work analysing the submissions as they come in in order to find the next set of participants to the program.

We urge anyone who has a mission-driven project or organisation that is aligned with the focus areas, that SAMIP has laid out, to submit their applications. Applications have no deadline so interested parties should take their time to think through their submissions before applying. Entry into the program, through general applications, does not mean automatic funding but will give participants access to SAMIP’s capacity-building program and resources.

February was a busy month for the program and the participants and SAMIP will continue looking for opportunities to increase its impact in the South Africa news media industry.