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Doing it for Madiba

The month of July has been dedicated to former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who’s sacrifice and work during the Apartheid era and into South Africa’s democratic freedom inspired millions. At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we have been inspired to find more ways to assist in the democratisation of our media space by supporting independent media.

Throughout the month of July the program has been hard at work with its grantees and beyond on ways to be conducive in the growth of a free press.

One of our grantees, Hashtag Our SA, participated in the biggest cleanup to take place on African continent. More than 6,000 people across nine different countries participated in this effort.

Our other grantees have also been busy throughout the month of July participating in media events and conferences to showcase their work and expertise.

Radio Days Africa

The largest radio conference on the African continent, Radio Days Africa, took place during the first week of July. The conference brought together stakeholders and interested parties in the radio and broadcasting space for a series of presentations and discussions about the industry and its future.

Three of our grantees, Children’s Radio Foundation, Volume and Soul City, had a presence at the conference where they got to present their projects and lead panel discussions.

Soul City presented their feminist platform, Not Yet Uhuru which will be seeing a big launch in the near future. The platform will feature discussions on topics such as  sex, friendship, alcohol abuse, financial independence and life in general.

Volume co-founder Paul McNally sat on an innovation panel on the last day of the conference where the future of the radio industry was discussed.

SAMIP at Hacks/Hackers

Our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, spoke at Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg’s media entrepreneurism event: How to be a media entrepreneur. The night was dedicated to discussing entrepreneurism in the news media space and how one can get involved in it.

Former Huffington Post SA editor-in-chief Verashni Pillay was also present to share on her experience with the news site that has now been shuttered by Media24. Pillay also touched on opportunities for startups in the media space and what is missing in the South African context.

General Entry

The program has officially closed applications for general entry. We started the process at the end of March this year and since then we have received more than 50 applications from some amazing projects, startups and organizations.

Our advisory committee deliberated on the finalists and we will update the public with regards to their decision once it has been approved by our board in New York City.

Moving forward

Now that general entry has closed the program will be taking inquiries for the foreseeable future. The inquiries are means for us to stay informed with regards to what interesting projects or organizations are out there in the independent media space.

As the year enters its final two quarters SAMIP will be working on providing capacity building initiatives for its grantees and our partners. We also will be attending some major media events in the upcoming months including: Media Indaba 2018 and the African Investigative Journalism Conference. We look forward to seeing and interacting with you all there.

May in review: Press Freedom in South Africa

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated earlier 03 May. According the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the date has been earmarked to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

According to the Reporters without Borders South Africa ranks 28th in world and third on the African continent on it’s World Press Freedom Index. South Africa’s position on this index is due to the country’s liberal constitution which enshrines freedom of expression and with it freedom of the press.

But apartheid-era legislation and the 2004 terrorism laws have been used to limit coverage of government institutions when “national interest” is supposedly at stake. Since 2015 the country has seen journalists being harassed and subjected to intimidation campaigns whilst covering the ruling ANC, government finances, the redistribution of land to the black population or the #Guptaleaks affair, all which are either off limits or provoke a hostile reaction from the authorities.

Now, more than ever, independent news media is needed not only in South Africa but the world. The South Africa Media Innovation Program is proud to be a part of the effort to promote press freedom and growth through our initiative that has provided grant funding to, so far, nine organizations and is still looking for more to fund in the near future

Notable Highlights

SAMIP advisory committee member and Wits Journalism lecturer Dinesh Balliah was named as one judges for the Forum for Community Journalist Awards 2017. Balliah will be judging the digital journalist category alongside SABC Digital News editor in chief Izak Minnaar.

Volume Media launched a new website. The startup, that was founded by Paul McNally and Roland Perron, remains committed in growing the community radio space in South Africa and has partnered with a number of local radio stations and NGOs in efforts to gather and broadcast hyperlocal stories.

Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar, from Hashtag our SA, were profiled by Business Insider. For the work they’ve done all over the world. The two continue to grow the mobile journalism space through training workshops and partnerships with universities.

Throughout the month of June the SAMIP will be going through applications for general entry as the program expands on its current cohort of participants. Remember to submit your organization or project to potentially get in our exciting initiative.