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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.

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.