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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.

Remember remember, SAMIP in November

The last couple of months tend to be one of the busiest and the same can be said for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) that is wrapping up 2019 with a series of workshops and training for our participants.

Revenue exploration Prague

In late October, SAMIP participant Daily Maverick attended the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) / Media Advisory Services‘ (MAS) Revenue Lab Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The workshop was geared towards providing insight and guidance on the latest trends in revenue generation for media companies and to provide a place for collaboration and networking among the participants and follow up after the event.

“Attendance at the Revenue Workshop resulted in exposure to various useful themes that were taken back to the organization along with strategic adoption of key focus areas for Daily Maverick in 2020”, says Daily Maverick publisher Styli Charalambous.

Tools and marketing in Joburg

In November SAMIP hosted two workshops at our offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg with the first being a showcase of Google News Lab’s tools and process by  visiting fellow Eugene Okumu. SAMIP participants were shown various Google products such as their online courses for journalists in areas that include investigative journalism and verification.

SAMIP then followed this up with a day-long workshop led by The Digital Ivy founder Claire Du Preez who guided our participants in developing marketing strategies for their businesses at the SAMIP offices. Delegates from Health-e News, gsport 4 girls, #SMWX, Hashtag our Stories and Not Yet Uhuru were in attendance.

“I’m feeling much more confident about my own methods of marketing, now that I know exactly how and what I should be questioning in my approach to our campaigns,” says Not Yet Uhuru social media coordinator T.K.

Podcasting in Poland

Way further up north SAMIP participants Volume, Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), and Daily Maverick attended the MDIF/MAS’ podcasting study tour to Agora (the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza) in Warsaw, Poland.

Several media outlets from Asia, Africa, and Europe were brought together to learn more about how Agora has managed to establish a strong podcasting presence in a short period of time with some excellent results that could be very inspiring for others.

The study tour provided an opportunity for delegates to: gain insight into revenue and production strategies for podcasts; how to consider various podcast formats and the resources required to produce each format; approaches to post-production; and audience development strategies for podcasts.

Products thinking in Mumbai

And on the other side of the world we sent delegates from ViewFinder, SMWX, Health-e News and gsport for girls to a two-day workshop in Mumbai, India that again hosted by MDIF/MAS. This time the focus was on content and product design for publishers.

Attendees of the workshop were also taught steps they should take to consider and implement when introducing a new product offering to audiences, advertisers and the internal team.

Each participating organization presented a short presentation on their current work or challenges faced in presenting new offers in terms of growth and scale. Following the workshop was a collaborative exercise of sharing of experiences, advice, and examples of case studies, and best industry examples.

Participant highlights

During this past month CRF was took home silver prize in the Global Youth and News Media category at the News Decoder Awards. They were lauded for their innovative approach to an HIV/Aids comprehension campaign.

As we barrel through the final month of 2019 SAMIP will be hosting a meeting of the Advisory Committee meeting in December 2019 in Johannesburg to select the next round of entrants to the program. To apply for Entry into SAMIP, fill in the enquiry form on the SAMIP website. Follow us on Twitter at @SAMIP_MDIF for updates and more information.

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

When the youth is heard

June is Youth Month in South Africa. It’s a time when the country is encouraged to think about the bravery of the young people who, on 16 June 1976, put their lives on the line during the uprisings that started in Soweto and spread around the country.

This Uprising is said to have changed the socio-political landscape of the country as the youth fought against the oppressive policies of the Apartheid era.

At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we are driven to make an impact in the media landscape by empowering the youth with our focus on digital native products and funding projects and organizations producing content that serves underserved communities and indigenous languages.

In the past couple of months the program has on-boarded several new participants that can be seen on our website. These new members of our family showcase our commitment to accelerating innovation and transformation in the local media space.

Independent media thrive in elections coverage

During the month of June two of our participants (The Daily Voxand Daily Maverick) were ranked high in Media Monitoring Africa’s Report on Media Coverage of the 2019 Elections. The report rated news media on a number of factors including the diversity of voices, issues reported on, and the political parties covered by media houses.

The Daily Vox and Daily Maverick got special mentions for being small independent publishers who managed to produce quality journalism in the period Media Monitoring Africa observed.

Young voices speak out

The Daily Vox managed to impress the team at MMA by being a publication staffed by five permanent writers and yet able to deliver engaging content leading up to the elections in May.

The publication ran a dialogue series, sponsored by Telkom, that asked the youth of South Africa to say what issues need to be addressed in the current climate. The dialogue series culminated in a roundtable moderated by The Daily Vox managing editor Sipho Hlongwane.

Our latest addition, the Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Experience (#SMWX), also hosted a youth panel at Menlyn Mall which was moderated by #SMWX host Sizwe. The panel discussed everything related to young people including activism and business:

Diversify diversify diversify

The rest of our participants had a busy month in June as they got advice on how they could fundraise and diversify their revenue streams from fundraising and strategy consultant Carolin Gomilia.

As advertising revenue and digital sales come under strain from shrinking budgets, a struggling economy and the dominance of platforms such as Facebook and Google, it’s more important than ever to look for diverse sources of income.

As the year progresses we will be taking deep dives into the world of podcasting, memberships, audience development and newsletters with our participants. We look forward to updating you all.

A New Dawn in May

May 2019 will be remembered as the month that South Africans went to the polls for the fifth time since we attained democratic freedom in the 1990s. The elections that took place on 8 May went without incident and with journalists and other media professionals being free to report on the events

This past month also saw SAMIP begin working with its newly added participants: GSport4Girls, ViewFinder and #YouthTruth (currently known as #SMWX).

Elections 2019 coverage highlights:

#YouthTruth’s flagship show (The Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Experience) has been making waves for providing a young voice to political discourse in South Africa.

The show started in March with a build-up to the national elections and stakeholders from the major political parties were invited to participate in a series of interviews.

After the elections, The Daily Vox provided a liveblog of the president’s inauguration, that took place on 25 May, on social media which was highly engaged with by their readers:

In Mpumalanga, The New Era reported on the impact of the results on the provincial political scene which saw the Democratic Alliance being replaced by the Economic Freedom Fighters as the official opposition to the African National Congress (ANC).

Leading up to the elections The New Era provided great coverage of the political in-fighting that had engulfed the ANC.

Getting financially literate

On 20 May the team from Unafundo, a business consulting firm run by Khulekile Msimang and his wife Wenzile Madonsela, trained our grantees on financial literacy and business management skills.

The training was in line with SAMIP’s capacity building initiatives which seek to empower our participants with the necessary skills and infrastructure to become sustainable media companies.

During the day our grantees were taken through the basics of financial reporting, accounting, and developing budgets for small businesses.

As the second half of 2019 begins SAMIP looks forward to working with our growing cohort of participants in innovating and transforming the media space in South Africa. Already there are plans to participate in Radio Days Africa, which takes place in July, and WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa conference in September.

Continue visiting our site for more updates on the program and our future plans for our participants and the industry.

SAMIP adds three more projects to its cohort

At the start of this year the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) held another meeting of its Advisory Committee to decide on the shortlisted applicants for 2019. After a lengthy session the following projects and organizations were selected to enter our program:

GSport4Girls

GSport4Girls is an online platform that provides coverage of female sports in South Africa. Another component of the organization runs the annual GSport Awards and Hall of Fame which recognizes outstanding performances and contributions in the field of women’s sports.

GSport4Girls was founded and is being operated by Kass Naidoo, a veteran sports journalist and broadcaster, and her husband Ryk Meiring, a technology and new media attorney.

ViewFinder

ViewFinder is an investigative journalism and documentary video production startup. The organization is modeling itself on ProPublica, that both accepts grants and also generates revenue from selling data-driven solutions. The startup was founded by journalist and Hubert Humphrey Fellow and entrepreneur Daneel Knoetze.

#YouthTruth

#YouthTruth is a WhatsApp news channel developed as collaborative production between Oxford academic and social commentator Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Thanga, an artificial intelligence (AI) studio based in Johannesburg. The team interviews major names in politics and popular culture and debate the issues of the day.

In its first phase the channel will be launched with their first show, the Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience (#SMWX). This show revolved around the 2019 elections, including weekly video interviews with political and social stakeholders, as well daily updates on the happenings in South Africa.

SAMIP is proud to add these new projects and organizations to our growing cohort and we look forward to working with them in disrupting the news media space in South Africa.

We visited Warsaw!

In mid-April the program travelled to Warsaw, Poland for the Media Development Investment Fund’s bi-annual Media Forum. This conference and celebration takes place every two years with the last one taking place in 2016 after the election of US President Donald Trump – a sign of challenges to the media to come.

The Media Forum provides an opportunity for clients, friends and colleagues of MDIF, from all over the world, to come together to share their learnings and insights in media. Attendees came from more than 30 countries representing everywhere from the South Americas to South East Asia.

Topics examined at the Forum included issues, such as media dealing with intimidation and harassment, to the business of membership and subscription models, mobile journalism storytelling and strategies for operating in challenging economic conditions.

Our participants also got to present to the MDIF board and SAMIP Advisory Committee on their projects and progress since entering our program in a session that stretched for more than two hours but was so immersive and exciting that we managed to keep a packed room.

All-in-all the experience was a once in a lifetime and we got to make new friends and forge stronger relationships with our friends and colleagues at MDIF.