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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.

COVID-19 lockdown levels explained by SAMIP participants

This week, as South Africa hit week four of its national lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled a plan to start easing some of the restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, as well as details of a massive R500-billion stimulus package.

The plan itself is a staged easing of the restrictions that were imposed on the country from the last month.

Health e-News reported on different COVID-19 lockdown levels and explained level 4 which will be effective as of 01 May 2020 and reported on the rise in COVID-19. The goal of the lockdown levels is to kickstart South Africa’s economy which has been failing since the lockdown measures were implemented.

At the same time, the country is still battling the rising number of Covid-19 cases that Media Hack Collective has been monitoring through their interactive dashboard.

Life after lockdown

One of the most asked questions in South Africa has been “what will life look like after the lockdown?”. The latest episode of Volume’s podcast series ‘Media Diaries’ probed that question from the perspectives of youth news platform #SMWX,  and media academic Dinesh Balliah.

The answer to the question of life after lockdown has ramifications for everyone and all industries from media to education.

Universities in South Africa will carry on with teachings online however the solution might not work for all the campus students. The Daily Vox continues to report campus news and this week the youth media house reported that due to COVID-19 nation lockdown university medical students might not be able to complete clinical teaching and this raises a concern about graduating this year

Food for Mzansi continues to report on agricultural stories that help the sector to cope with COVID-19  by interviewing experts in the agricultural sector. This week FFM interviewed Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) who shared guidelines on how the agriculture sector can navigate COVID-19.

 Holding the security forces accountable

Over the past couple of weeks, South Africa’s security services have been a wide range of powers in order to help the health sector manage the lockdown and pandemic relief efforts. Investigative journalism start-up Viewfinder and mobile news platform Scrolla have been reporting diligently on how our police and soldiers have acted wrongly and with impunity using these powers.

Viewfinder recently started an initiative asking members of the public to get in touch with them should they have stories about police and military wrong-doing during the lockdown. If you have a story to tell you can contact them via this link.

Love and marriage under lockdown

Another area of life in South Africa that has been exacerbated by the lockdown has been domestic and gender-based violence which has forced vulnerable members of society to shelter in place with their abusers.

Mail & Guardian’s latest edition features a harrowing story on this topic.

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.

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.