Academica, Local Print Media Collaborate in Fostering Sino-South Africa Cooperation

Article by Stephen Seakgwe (Executive Director – BMOA)

On Wednesday, June 19, the School of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Johannesburg hosted a pivotal workshop focused on the intersection of Sino-South African and broader Sino-African relations, and the crucial role of local print media in these dynamics.

The event, skillfully moderated by Dr. Gideon Chitanga, aimed to illuminate how local journalists can effectively convey these complex relationships to their grassroots audiences, fostering a sense of community and shared future.

Opening Insights

Mr. Pan Qingjiang, Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg, commenced the workshop with aa keynote address on “Building a Community with a Shared Future in South Africa.”

He delved into the multifaceted agreements between South Africa and China, emphasizing the vision of a shared future for humanity. Highlighting China’s shift towards a win-win strategy in economic aid, he urged local media to familiarize themselves with initiatives like the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI).

“South Africa is one of the first countries to sign into the BRI and has been growing steadily for the past 15 years,” Mr. Pan noted. He underscored the pivotal role of academia and media in strengthening Sino-South African relations, calling for greater awareness and coverage of developmental projects beneficial to local communities.

Media’s Role in Community Engagement

Dr. Gideon Chitanga, from the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, presented on “China-South Africa and Africa Relations: Community-Local Media, Content, and Sources of News in Building a Community with a Shared Future and Telling Our Own Stories.”

He emphasized the importance of local publishers taking an active interest in global events that impact their communities. Highlighting the economic and cultural ties between China and South Africa, Dr. Chitanga urged local media to cover the Chinese diaspora and local businesses, noting the potential for economic growth and job creation. He also stressed the significance of cultural exchange and international opportunities, such as scholarships for advanced studies in China, which can serve as valuable content for local audiences.

Challenges and Opportunities for Local Media

Mr. Austin Moyo, Publisher of Khanyisa News and Jozi Advertiser – Online, addressed the “Challenges Facing Local Community Media in Gauteng.”

He identified high printing and distribution costs, along with the pandemic-induced drop in ad sales, as major hurdles. Despite these challenges, Moyo highlighted the resilience and passion driving community media.

He advocated for leveraging a strong social media presence to supplement print operations and enhance audience engagement while acknowledging the need for training staff on newsroom policies. Moyo called for increased support in the form of technology and subsidies to boost the capacity of local publishers.

Developmental Journalism and Community Impact

Dr. Maud Blose, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg, proposed a vision “Towards a Developmental and Balanced Narrative.” She encouraged community publishers to take pride in nurturing young talent, despite challenges in staff retention.

Dr. Blose introduced the concept of Developmental Journalism, where content is driven by ‘change agents’ aiming to create positive change while adhering to the basic principles of Journalism. She urged publishers to regularly assess their communities’ evolving needs and how they access news and information.

Dr. Oswelled Ureke, also from the University of Johannesburg, expanded on this theme by discussing how media can foster a sense of community. He critiqued mainstream media’s often negative portrayal of indigenous African communities, challenging local journalists to counter these stereotypes with more positive and accurate narratives.

“Are you community media or media reporting about the community?” he asked, urging publishers to deeply integrate their reporting with the identities and interests of their communities.

Bridging Local and Global Perspectives

Dr. Cliff Ochieng Mboya, from the Centre for Africa-China Studies, concluded the presentations with insights on “Local Community Newspapers: Writing South Africa-China, and Africa-China Relations at Community Media Level.”

He emphasized the importance of understanding Chinese policies and their local applicability, such as the impacts of BRICS and FOCAC. “If it affects you, it is relevant,” he stated, urging local media to make these global dynamics accessible and relevant to their audiences.

By telling their own stories and highlighting opportunities for growth and development, Dr Mboya says local journalists can significantly contribute to the socio-economic and cultural fabric of their societies.

He also shared some significant events that Pre-date the days of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Mboya said China’s first significant contact with Africa occurred during the Ming Dynasty when the fifth and sixth voyages of the famous Zheng He naval fleet reached the north-east coast of Africa during the first quarter of the fifteenth century.

Concluding Remarks

Researcher at UJ, Hellen Adogo, gave a fitting summary of what was covered in the workshop, unpacking ways publishers can consider their impact if they take their news content to new audiences.

Mr. Eric Phiri, Chairman of the Gauteng Association of Independent Publishers, delivered the vote of thanks, highlighting the need for continued initiatives like this workshop to develop and support community newspapers across the country.

This workshop underscored the vital role local print media play in bridging global and local perspectives, and fostering a shared future through informed and engaged communities.

MDDA calls for community media grant applications

The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) recently made a call encouraging community media projects with valid class broadcast service licenses, including radio, TV, and community print publications, as well as small commercial print, to apply for the 2024/25 grant funding.

The application window officially opened on 31 May 2024 and will close on 28 June 2024.

The MDDA said community media projects of all sizes are encouraged to apply.

“The MDDA aims to encourage media ownership, access and control to media, particularly by historically disadvantaged communities and diminished indigenous languages and cultural groups,” it said.

For print and digital publications, this year’s grant funding application call is focusing on Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Free State and the Western Cape.

For more updates regarding MDDA-related news and information, go to @MDDA_Media or WhatsApp 0635094934.

Government recognizes media’s role in advancing democracy

The South African government has joined calls for the protection of journalists’ rights, particularly during a time when South Africa is preparing for national elections.

According the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO violence against journalists intensifies during election cycles.

“Professional journalism and a free and objective press are cornerstones of democracy and serve to hold society accountable. We acknowledge the essential role journalists play in our democracy fighting for truth. We condemn any form of violence or intimidation against journalists domestically and internationally.

“South Africa remains committed to supporting a free and independent press. The protection of journalists is of utmost importance, as it is a form of protection of our own rights”, said Acting Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Nomonde Mnukwa recently.

Following the assassination of two French journalists in Mali in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163, which proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. 

The resolution mobilises United Nations member states to intensify efforts to prevent violence against journalists and create a conducive environment for them to perform their work.

“This day provides an opportunity for all who believe in the advancement of democratic values and the preservation of citizen’s constitutional rights to speak out against any form of violence or harassment of journalists,” Mnukwa said.

Last month, South Africa commemorated Black Wednesday, which aims to raise awareness about the rights of journalists and remembers those who lost their lives fighting for the dignity of the profession.

In August, GCIS hosted a panel discussion with more than 100 journalism and communication students at the Tshwane University of Technology on the topic of Cyberbullying of female journalists, to create awareness on the harassment, discrimination and violence they face in the line of duty. 

Furthermore, GCIS is planning to host a webinar on “Violence Against Journalists and the Integrity of Elections,” in the coming week.

“This is to ensure that, leading up to the election period next year, everyone is cognisant that journalists keep society informed, and foster democratic discourse and integrity of electoral processes.  Details of the Webinar will be shared shortly.

“Government also commends the work done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as well as the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and various partners on the workshops they have been hosting across the country to prepare media for reporting on the upcoming 2024 national general elections,” GCIS said. 

Looking to transition from Print to Digital media? Consider this short guide

Press machine printing newspaper

The changing technology landscape has indeed had significant implications for print media worldwide, including in South Africa.

As digital platforms and online news consumption continue to grow, print media has faced challenges such as declining readership and advertising revenue.

However, there are still opportunities for print media to adapt and thrive in this changing environment.

To address the gaps and leverage the potential of technology, here are some steps that can be taken:

  1. Embrace digital transformation: Print media organizations should focus on integrating digital platforms and technologies into their operations. This includes developing an online presence, creating digital editions, and exploring multimedia content such as videos and podcasts.
  2. Enhance online content and engagement: Develop high-quality, engaging content specifically tailored for online platforms. This can involve producing multimedia stories, interactive features, and utilizing social media to engage with readers and build a loyal online community.
  3. Invest in data analytics: Utilize data analytics tools to gain insights into reader preferences, interests, and behavior. This data can inform content creation, audience targeting, and advertising strategies, enabling print media companies to deliver personalized experiences and increase reader engagement.
  4. Collaborate with technology partners: Forge partnerships with technology companies, digital marketing agencies, or startups specializing in media innovation. These collaborations can provide access to expertise, resources, and cutting-edge technologies that can help print media companies navigate the digital landscape effectively.
  5. Develop new revenue streams: Diversify revenue streams beyond traditional advertising and print subscriptions. This can include exploring opportunities in digital advertising, sponsored content, events, e-commerce, and developing premium subscription models for exclusive content.

Getting the right funding is also vital

Regarding funding, there are several avenues to consider:

  1. Media grants and funding programs: Research and apply for grants and funding programs specifically designed for media organizations. These can be offered by governmental bodies, non-profit organizations, or media development agencies that support media innovation and sustainability.
  2. Corporate partnerships and sponsorships: Seek partnerships with companies that have an interest in supporting media and journalism. This could involve collaborations for branded content, event sponsorships, or corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  3. Venture capital and investment: Explore the possibility of attracting investment from venture capital firms or angel investors interested in media and technology. Present a compelling business case highlighting the potential of your media company to adapt to the changing landscape and deliver value.
  4. Crowdfunding and community support: Engage with your audience and community to garner support through crowdfunding campaigns or membership models. Many readers are willing to contribute financially to support journalism they value.

When applying for funding, it is advisable to apply as a media company or organization rather than an individual.

This demonstrates a structured and sustainable approach, and it aligns with the expectations of most funding bodies.

Make sure to thoroughly research the eligibility criteria, application requirements, and deadlines for each funding opportunity to increase your chances of success.

Remember, the specific skills required to address the gaps in South Africa’s print media landscape will vary based on the organization’s goals and the nature of the technology adoption.

However, some essential skills and knowledge areas to consider include digital content creation, data analytics, social media management, multimedia production, audience engagement, and business development in the digital media space.

Continuous learning and upskilling are critical to stay abreast of evolving technologies and trends in the industry.

Entries open for Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards 2023 

The country’s top journalists can start sharpening their pens and checking their archives for their best work from the past year, as entries for the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards (VJOY) open on 1 September.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director for External Affairs at Vodacom South Africa, said the company looked forward to the 22nd iteration of the event, a highlight on the calendar for newsrooms around the country.

“I am grateful to our judging panel, led once again by Convener Mapi Mhlangu, for their time, the attention and careful consideration they will devote as they apply their minds as to who our country’s finest journalists, photographers and video-journalists are.”

Convenor, Mapi Mhlangu said, “Journalism is not just a profession; it is a responsibility towards society. These awards provide journalists with an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on their best work, the stories that have truly served the core role of journalism in our society. Let us continue to strive for excellence and ensure that our work stands as a beacon of truth and accountability for generations to come.”

“It has become more crucial than ever to responsibly provide real and true stories to the public, recognising that every story is not just black and white, but nuanced and complex. At the core of our theme for 2023 is authentic information and hybrid content. A reminder of the increasingly important role journalists and factual information play in the modern-day society of generative content,” said Netshitenzhe.

The esteemed panel of judges remains the same as last year with the exception of Neo Ntsoma who joined the judging panel to assist with the photography category. Other judges asked to weigh up the hundreds of entries are: Jermaine Craig, Ryland Fisher, Arthur Goldstuck, Patricia McCracken, Professor Gilbert Motsaathebe, Collin Nxumalo, Jovial Rantao, Elna Rossouw, Advocate Robin Sewlal and Obed Zilwa.

The 12 categories make provision for journalists from any and all beats to enter their best work, across Live Reporting and Breaking News; Investigative; Opinion; Lifestyle; Features; Photography; Sport; Financial & Economics; Politics; Sustainability, Innovation in Journalism and the Young Journalist of the Year Award.

Finalists will be chosen from five regions to then compete at the national finals in November. The five regions are as follows:

o   Region A: Gauteng

o   Region B: Free State, Northern Cape, Northwest and Limpopo

o   Region C: KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga

o   Region D: Western Cape

o   Region E: Eastern Cape

For more information on category descriptions and requirements, visit www.journalist.vodacom.co.za

Journalists should enter their finest work produced between 01 August 2022 and 31 July 2023, submitted online at www.journalist.vodacom.co.za between 01 September and midnight on Friday 15 September 2023. 

No late entries will be accepted.

In support of developing journalism in South Africa, Vodacom funds the winner of the Young Journalist award on an all-expenses paid course in an effort to assist in upskilling young talent.

Regional category winners receive R5 000, national category winners, R10 000, and the overall Vodacom Journalist of the Year winner an impressive R100 000. The prize money is shared in the case of joint winners, or if more than one journalist contributed to a story. The VJOYs also names a Lifetime Achiever each year. 

PanSALB calls for nominations for Multilingualism Awards

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) hereby invites members of the public to nominate individuals or organizations with proven track records in the promotion, preservation, and protection of multilingualism to be recognized for their contributions for the furtherance of multilingualism vehicle to social cohesion and nation-building.  

The 2023 Multilingualism Awards are bestowed by the Board on individuals/organizations who have excelled in the promotion, protection, and preservation of all official languages including Khoi and San Languages.

Nominated individuals or organizations should possess special knowledge, experience, and details of the contributions to the promotion, preservation, and protection of multilingualism in the country. Anyone wishing to nominate an individual or organization for possible recognition to the contributions made, they should submit the following:

  • A completed nomination form containing full names and all contact details of the nominee with reasons for the nomination and explaining suitability for the recognition.
  • The form should be signed by the nominee in which he or she agrees to the nomination.
  • Background and details of the contributions to the promotions, preservations, protection, and / or participation in multilingualism

Winners will be announced at an official ceremony scheduled to take place on 17 November 2023 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Nominees will be awarded under the following categories: Education, Language and LiteratureLanguage Activism, MediaYouth, Government (Public Sector), Technology, Business, Music, Translation and Interpretation and the Chairperson’s lifetime achievement awards.

Nomination forms are available here, and will be closing on Friday, 08 September 2023.

MDDA opens the call for grant funding applications 2023/24

Closing date is on 17 July 2023, apply online or submit physically

The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) will officially open the 2023/24 Call for Grant Funding Applications for a six-week period commencing from 05 June 2023.

Community broadcast media projects, including radio, TV, and community print publications, as well as small commercial print are invited to apply.

This year, the MDDA is celebrating twenty years of fulfilling its mandate by providing grant funding and other support, with the aim to encourage media ownership, access and control to media particularly by historically disadvantaged communities and diminished Indigenous language and cultural groups.

The agency will be introducing a few changes to this call for applications for both community print and community broadcast applications.

Grant Funding remains one of the core functions of the MDDA and is also one of the central factors towards ensuring successful empowerment, sustainability, and transformation of the community media sector. The application process will be conducted through compliant, cost-effective, and transparent selection procedures, in-line with corporate governance principles and compliance with the Agency’s legislative framework.

Community print applications: Due to the minimal budget for community print, the call to community projects will take a targeted approach and invite applications from four provinces.

“The MDDA will rotate the provinces every year after this call. All applications will be received on the MDDA’s online application system found on the MDDA website. The call is targeting organizations owned or focusing on youth, women and persons with disabilities related content. This year, the call is not accepting digital media applications under the print portfolio as it will be targeting communities which rely on hardcopy publications and publish in indigenous languages to assist further the mandate of media development and diversity in rural communities,” the agency stated.

Community Broadcast applications will still target all nine provinces.

How to submit your application

Applications will only be accepted via the following channels: emailed or physically delivered to the MDDA offices in Auckland Park (Gate 13, 26 Canary Road, Auckland Park, SABC GSM Building.)

The qualifying criteria is obtainable on the MDDA website, www.mdda.org.za.

For more information on the grant applications call, contact Mzu Kashe on the following e-mail: margaret@mdda.org.za / 082 785 6071.

For more updates regarding MDDA related news and information, follow us on our website and social media platforms:

Declaration of Allegiance to the Black Media Owners Association

We, the founding members, hereby declare our allegiance to the Black Media Owners Association and its objective of raising the dignity of black people through all media platforms and channels in South Africa and beyond.

We commit to always putting the interests of our black people first in all our media companies and to growing with them.

We recognize that we are competing directly with the big five media establishments that have benefited from injustices of the past and are still doing so through market monopolies in all media spectra.

We declare that enough is enough, and we now wage a war with the establishments that be in this country, including the State and other institutions that support the narrative.

We are the Black Media Owners Association, and we are committed to using our collective voice and resources to challenge the status quo and create a more just and equitable society.

We pledge to work together towards achieving our shared goals and to support each other in our endeavors.