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Matthew Buckland, digital pioneer and SAMIP Advisory Committee member, passes away

It is with great sadness that we report the passing away of Matthew Buckland, a member of our Advisory Committee and Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) Entrepreneur-in-Residence, after battling illness.

Professionally, Matt was a genuine pioneer in digital media in South Africa and across the continent. He led the Mail & Guardian’s digital platform in the early 2000s, ensuring that it became Africa’s leading news site. After leaving M&G, he became a digital entrepreneur, founding the highly successful agency Creative Spark.

Matt’s accomplishments in digital media in South Africa led him to being asked to serve on the Advisory Committee of the South Africa Media Innovation Program, where he would share his business acumen with the next generation of media companies transforming the country.

After leaving Creative Spark, he joined MDIF as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, where he was able to share his expertise beyond South Africa, advising and consulting media companies across the world from Indonesia to Peru, and running workshops and trainings from Berlin to Yangon.

Personally, we shall greatly miss Matthew’s warmth, energy, and passion, and would like to pay tribute to a wonderfully able and supportive colleague.

Our thoughts are with Matt’s family at this difficult time.

A pivotal month of March

The month of March is one in which human rights, as enshrined in the Constitution of the country, are celebrated with a public holiday of the same name. The day itself commemorates a moment in time when the country pivoted to making sure that the rights of all citizens were protected and observed instead of a small minority. March was also about pivots for us at the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP).

The pivot to paid

SAMIP itself has been working with our cohort of participants in helping them with their own pivots and none is more important than the pivot to reader revenue – whether it is with a membership plan or a subscription model.

To that end we held our third workshop of the year that was focused on Membership plans and Subscriptions. The workshop was led by Wits Journalism lecturer and SAMIP Advisory Committee member Dinesh Balliah. 

Over two days SAMIP participants were taken through how to go about developing membership plans and the considerations they need to make when contemplating using subscriptions as a source of revenue.

We had speakers from The Membership Puzzle, Mail & Guardian, Daily Maverick (who are a grantee of SAMIP) and Tiso Blackstar who all gave their insights from both the editorial and business sides of the equation. 

As news organizations struggle with declining advertising revenue with the big platforms (Facebook and Google) taking the lion’s share of those revenues, they are beginning to look at how they can get direct revenue from their readers using metered paywalls, membership drives and other paid content strategies.

A pivot to growth

March was a month in which our Advisory Committee, which included newly added member Mandla Langa, met to deliberate over the shortlisted applications for entry into our program. Over the past couple of months the team has been going through the enquiries submitted to our website and doing due diligence in preparation for the meeting.

We look forward to making an announcement on the chosen applicants in due time and we are still taking in enquiries as we continue to grow our cohort of participants.

Cohort highlights

Our participants continue to make splashes in the local and international stage and we would like to highlight some of their achievements in the last month:

Hashtag Our Stories produced a video on refugees in Bangladesh which received more than 180,000 views on Facebook.  For International Women’s Day, that takes place annually on 8 March, they produced a video that highlighted what various women had to say about being a woman in a male dominated industry.

  • #NotYetUhuru launched #YVote4U, an election campaign which will be held nationwide in partnership with #TheTotalShutdown, Corruption Watch, and Country Duty.
  • #NotYetUhuru also participated in the 63rd session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Additionally, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, who is also a part of #NotYetUhuru, was appointed by parliament as a full-time commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa.
  • The Daily Vox published an investigative article which highlighted sexual harassment allegations against Muhammed Desai, the director of the Palestinian lobby group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA).
  • The Children’s Radio Foundation’s WhatsApp Integration Project, that was funded by SAMIP, has been shortlisted for the WAN-IFRA 2019 World Digital Media Awards under the category Best Innovation to Engage Youth Audiences.

April is going to be crazy month and we look forward to growing our program and participants as South Africa celebrates its 25th Freedom Day.

SAMIP advisory committee member receives Honorary Doctorate in Literature

The South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) is pleased to announce that the University of the Witwatersrand will be honoring Mandla Langa with an honorary doctorate in Literature during its March graduation season.

Langa recently joined SAMIP’s Advisory Committee as a representative of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, which is one of the funding organizations behind SAMIP.

Wits University is honoring three individuals, of which Langa is one, for their sterling service to society during its March graduation season.

Langa’s honorary doctorate in Literature is in recognition of his contribution to South African Literature.

“Mandla Langa is one of South Africa’s internationally acknowledged contemporary writers, cultural organizers and a veteran of the national liberation struggle. His biography reveals a complex intertwining between his life-long dedication to the struggles against inhumanity and for freedom, and his persistent courage to engage in critical self-reflection. His national and global stature is an acknowledgment of his immense literary significance and social contribution to South African society.”

His novel The Lost Colours of the Chameleon won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize. In 2009, Mandla also received the Living Legends Award from the City of Durban. During 2010, Mandla was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award from South African Literary Awards. Furthermore, in 2007 Mandla received South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga (silver) for his cultural, artistic and journalistic achievements. 

Besides serving on SAMIP’s Advisory Committee, Langa is also the Chairman of Phuthuma Nathi and Multichoice South Africa’s board. Mandla has also served as a board member for Primedia, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Contemporary African Music and Arts and Medu Arts and Letters.

Our Valentines to SA media

February is known as the month of love and for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we got to express our love for the local media industry and for our participants. The short month may only have twenty-eight days but we packed in more than two months worth of work in it: We went on speed-dates, hung out in a cool workspace learning about native advertising and prepared to expand our cohort of grantees.

Speed dating among journalists

Our highlight event for the month was a speed dating and networking event that SAMIP held with members of the South Africa National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and business and technology developers in Cape Town. The event took place on the evening of February 8 at Workshop17’s Waterfront venue.  

The event kicked off with an address by newly appointed SANEF chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase on the state of news media in South Africa. 

SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa then introduced the program to the attendees and teased out our “Quit Your Job” challenge – which you will hear more about in time.

Our program manager, Bilal Randeree coordinated the speed-dating rounds and towards the end of the programme SAMIP called up interested parties to pitch their ideas to the audience at large. Some great media ideas were heard and the event will hopefully be repeated in Johannesburg in the future.

Going native

The following week we hosted our grantees at Workshop17 for a workshop on native advertising. Forbes estimates that the ever-evolving field of native campaigns will account for 74% of advertising revenue by 2021.

Our participants (which included Daily Maverick, The Daily Vox, Digest, Hashtag our Stories, Igunundu Press, The New EraSoul City, Volume and invited guests from the Mail & Guardian and ViewFinder) were taken through the history of native advertising and why it’s an important revenue stream by Media Development Investment Fund entrepreneur-in-residence Matthew Buckland. 

The attendees also heard from native advertising experts in the fields of publishing an advertising, who gave their take on native campaigns and the learnings they made in them.

Matthew impressed on the attendees that if they tried “dressing up advertising as editorial” they were sure to lose the game. Kathryn and Bernard Kotze from Daily Maverick’s in-house brand studio, Beatnik, also emphasised the ethics of aligning native campaigns with editorial policies. Moneyweb national sales manager Tracy Parsons advised that publishers should stand their ground in negotiations with media buyers and potential clients for native campaigns.

The workshop was a success and a good start to SAMIP’s capacity building initiatives which will see more workshops and trainings taking place throughout 2019.

Cohort highlights

Throughout February our participants also had some successes of their own including:

  • Digest founder Dhanyal Davidson, wrote an article on ways to improve managing money which was published by Fin24. The article highlights how readers use Digest to stay informed about finance and economics in South Africa.
  • Digest and The Daily Vox provided great coverage and analysis on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address which took place on the 7 February.
  • Digest, the Mail & Guardian and the Daily Maverick also provided great coverage and analysis on the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech for 2019 which took place on the 20 February.

As always we are still taking in enquiries on our website, so if you believe you have an innovative news and information organization, product or idea, please submit an enquiry and we promise to respond.

March promises to be another busy month and we look forward to what it brings.

New year, more SAMIP

The year started off with a bang for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP). With 12 grantees under our banner, and more to come, we have our work cut out for us in 2019. 

Last year we ran workshops, trainings and other interventions in order to assist our grantees in growing their projects and businesses. We also attended a number of events and networking opportunities with our fellow media partners and will do so again this year.

A quick December update

December was a crazy month for SAMIP and while we were quiet on the website as 2018 came to a close, we were all over the show in the final stretch of the year. 

The program officer, Siyabonga Africa, and program assistant, Lerato Mashianoke, travelled to the Eastern Cape for Highway Africa which has been dubbed the largest news media conference on the African continent. The program officer was invited to run a workshop on media entrepreneurship and to deliver the keynote address on the final day of the conference that was held at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Siyabonga Africa was interviewed by SAfm’s Sakina Kamwendo during Highway Africa on media entrepreneurship.

At the same time the Open Society Foundation of South Africa was holding its 25th anniversary celebrations that were attended by our program manager, Bilal Randeree. The program got a special mention from OSF president Patrick Gaspard.

Onwards and forwards

After our December break the program reconvened with plans to further develop the current cohort of participants whilst also looking to add new ones and potentially investing in them too.

Our first meeting with the grantees saw the program flying in delegates from each project to Johannesburg for a kick-off event at the Wits Journalism department in Braamfontein. There we were hosted by Africa Check, a fact-checking non-profit that has stellar work in debunking falsehoods and misinformation on the continent.

We were given a presentation on the work Africa Check does by its TRI Facts general manager Aniesha Bulbulia, TRI Facts head of partnerships and engagement Nishen Naicker, and Africa Check acting deputy chief editor Kate Wilkinson. 

Some of the interesting projects we were shown include their Promise Tracker which keeps tabs on the promises made by three incumbent political parties in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Afterwards we updated our grantees on the status of the program and our plans for the year ahead.

2019 and beyond

Beyond January the program will be hosting workshops on native advertising, memberships and subscriptions and many more topics in the space of digital media. 

We are always looking for new and innovative ideas so if you haven’t already please fill in our enquiry form.

We look forward to pushing the boundaries of innovation and transformation in local media and to that end we wish you all a happy and successful 2019.

SAMIP brings together media workers, entrepreneurs and techies

If you are media worker looking for a new challenge or you have a side hustle or project you need someone to work with you then do we have the event for you.

The South Africa Media Innovation Program is heading down to the Mother City on Friday 08 February and will be hosting a networking and speed dating event for media workers, business developers and technologists.

The event takes place at a time when industry leaders and professionals are battling with the disruption of the media industry and solutions are being sought for strategies that can be used to help curb the negative effects.

Already we have seen some of these negative effects such as the recent announcement of the closing down of Ndalo Media (the publishing house of the Destiny titles), the announcement of retrenchments at the SABC and declining advertising and sales revenues for newspapers and magazines.

If you are media worker who is looking for an opportunity to find a potential business or technology partner this is a great opportunity to meet some like-minded folks who could help you make your idea a reality.

If you are interested in signing up to attend our networking event fill in the form below and the SAMIP team will get back to you.

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.

An Octsober month for SAMIP

Octsober is one of those things that you hear about and you wonder what is the point. The premise is simple: abstain from drinking any alcohol throughout the month of October as a detox from most the year as we head into the festive season. It’s a sobering experience and so was the past month for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) as we added more organizations to our cohort and attended a slew of media events.

New additions

The highlight of the past month was the addition of The Daily Vox and Daily Maverick to our cohort of participants after we concluded our general entry recruitment drive. The two publications join our growing family that began with nine grantees that were chosen through the Innovation Challenge last year.

Daily Maverick is an independent online publication focusing on news analysis and investigative journalism. The publication’s investigative arm (Scorpio) was famously part of the team that reported on the #GuptaLeaks. Earlier this year they were lauded for that work by the South African National Editors’ Forum who awarded them, along with reporters from amaBhungane and News24, the Nat Nakasa Journalism Award.

The publication was selected for entry into SAMIP for its membership plan: Maverick Insider. Daily Maverick publisher and CEO Styli Charalambous says they hope to expand the publication’s revenue mix with Maverick Insider which was revealed at The Gathering in August.

“We are pleased to be working with SAMIP in our efforts to develop a sustainable membership plan,” says Charalambous. “In a time when most revenue streams have dried up we believe Maverick Insider is an innovative way of generating revenue whilst allowing non-paying readers to access our content for free.”

The Daily Vox is an independent media organisation that seeks to put the young citizen at the centre of news. The publication focuses on telling stories that matter to South Africans, especially the young and hopeful.

They gained prominence with the #FeesMustFall protests that spread across university campuses in 2016. With SAMIP’s assistance they are developing new and innovative strategies to become sustainable and profitable that will serve as a model that can be replicated by independent media in South Africa.

Client News

In the past month our grantees have produced some great examples of gender-focused journalism. The Daily Vox wrote an article which highlighted how the South African justice system continues to fail rape victims and survivors in South Africa, and Hashtag Our SA produced a video showing how menstrual cups can not only save women money but also be helpful to the environment.

Fun-ancial newsletter Digest teamed up with local comedian DevonDidIt to produce a series of hilarious videos highlighting the missing gaps in our knowledge of the South African financial sector.

 

Events

In October South Africa commemorated #BlackWednesday. Events were held across South Africa in remembrance of 19 October 1977 when 18 black consciousness organisations and mainly black newspapers were banned in South Africa.

During the week of Black Wednesday Media Monitoring Africa holds their annual Media Freedom Week events which include panel discussions on key issues in the local media industry. The discussions this year included a look at the state of the national broadcaster, the SABC, and the potential threat of bots, disinformation and misinformation in next year’s election.

SAMIP was also at the African Investigative Journalism Conference that took place at the University of Witwatersrand. SAMIP advisory committee member and MDIF deputy-CEO Mohamed Nanabhay moderated a discussion on sustainability in journalism, whilst SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa taught a workshop on Python programming for journalists.

With 2018 heading into its final lap the program will be looking to add more projects and organizations to our cohort and we are going through all the enquiries being made to our website.

Until next month.

 

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.

SAMIP finds the next lit startups in Youth Month

The month of June is dedicated to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto. This year marked the 41st anniversary of the Soweto Uprising where 15,000 students gathered at Orlando West Secondary School with the intention of participating in a peaceful march to the nearby Orlando Stadium.

Having only been launched last year August the South Africa Media Innovation Program is young at heart. We’re still less than a year old but we’ve done so much in the intervening time between our start and today.

SAMIP hosted a Sales & Business Development Workshop which took place on the 6th & 7th of June. The workshop was attended by some of the SAMIP grantees, two MDIF clients and two organisations from JamLab. The workshop was facilitated by Carl Davis, Matthew Buckland, Riaan Wolmarans, and Chrizelda Viljoen.

SAMIP also participated in this year’s Duke Menell Media Exchange which took place on the 8th and 9th of June. SAMIP launched the #PerfectPitch challenge with the hopes of finding SA’s next lit media company. The winners of #PerfectPitch were GSport4Girls, Politically Aweh and Quintessential ZA. The winning startups will get a chance to be entered into our program through general applications, whilst also receiving some mentoring from Matthew Buckland.

The team has also been meeting with applicants for general entry into the program which is still open for innovative news and information services startups to enter.

Client Highlights

    • Our grantees participated in the Duke Menell Media Exchange, taking part in a number of workshops and panel discussions. Osiame Molefe from Collective Media Cooperative and Soul City Institute for Social Justice CEO Lebo Ramafoko who sat on a panel discussing missing narratives in South Africa.
    • Volume News: They made a presentation about their business in local community radio stations in front of the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
    • Digest: Dhanyal Davidson was invited to present his newsletter during a EdTech’s pitch evening within the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative. Digest also  launched a new website and new branding
    • Pocket Reporter has been converted into a web application after existing as an Android application since its initial development. The story generation tool also added more templates including a health story template in collaboration with Health-E News.

 

  • Hashtag Our Stories: They won the best social short form award, and best mojo marketing campaign, at the Mobile Journalism Festival which took place on the 29th – 31st May in Ireland.