TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2017 /CNW/ – Three teams from the Journalism and Media Lab (JAMLAB) Accelerator programme have won first stage funding from the South Africa Media Innovation Program’s (SAMIP) first Innovation Challenge, a challenge put out by the Omidyar Network.
The winning teams are Media Factory, Soul City and Volume News. They will share a pool of grant money to advance their projects. The organisations will also have access to mentoring and expertise for the next three years, to help them become financially sustainable.
The JAMLab is an innovative new media entrepreneurship incubator/accelerator and partnership between Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), the School of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand and Ryerson University.
“Two years ago, I went to South Africa to pitch the concept for this project to Barry Dwolatzky, the visionary founder of the Tshimologong Innovation Precinct in Johannesburg” said Rachel Pulfer, Executive Director of Journalists for Human Rights. “Wits lecturer Indra De Lanerolle had meanwhile been working on a version of the same idea. They grabbed the challenge and ran with it. Now the lab is a reality. Six teams have gone through the programme. Three have won funding to date; more is to come. That is a spectacular success rate for a first cohort.”
“All the teams offer great new ideas about how to rethink the business models of media in a disrupted age”, says Pulfer, “I am also thrilled that two of the winning teams represent new business models run by women, and that all winning projects are designed to ensure voices of women, girls, township dwellers, and those too-often excluded from coverage in South Africa take their rightful place in the public conversation there.” Added Pulfer: “This is all very promising for JHR’s long goal of helping to develop entrepreneurship education opportunities within the media industry and working to innovate through a digitally disrupted era.”
Team JHR joined Wits Journalism and JAMLab director Indra De Lanerolle to hear the teams’ final pitches during the JAMLab’s. DemoDays held on November 15, 2017 at the Tshimologong Innovation Precinct in Johannesburg. They joined interested investors and supporters, such as the Omidyar Network, representatives from the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria, and Vodacom SA among others. For more information on Demo Day, read JAMLab’s newsletter here.
JAMLab Director Indra De Lanerolle is also optimistic about the future for innovation in journalism and media in Africa. “We believe JAMLAB is contributing to transforming media in South Africa and delivering innovation that really can change people’s lives,” he said. “The South African Media Innovation Program is one of the most significant examples of the support that is out there for great ideas well executed. We are delighted they have recognised three of our teams.”
Lebo Ramafoko of Soul City says, “Winning confirms that there is a need for a platform for women who are tired about the injustices they face daily and to do something about it. I personally feel it is an endorsement of yet another pioneering idea from Soul City and a confirmation that we are still relevant and have a big job to do”. With the funds, The Soul City chief executive says they will run Not Yet Uhuru Radio on a digital platform, aim to refine their concept, attract advertisers and develop the long term financial viability of the radio station.
Media Factory, led by Nelisa Ngqulana, aims to link national newsrooms with freelancers in under-covered parts of the country. The goal is to improve coverage of the country outside the metropoles, and to create better income opportunities for journalists in smaller cities, towns and rural areas. Ngqulana says she can now make Media Factory a reality and afford to bring her ideas to life. “The funding is now there to build the platform. I have already gotten technology from Code for Africa. I am going to be to customising their citizen reporter platform to suit what I need for Media Factory, to do an outreach campaign, grow our database and build out our team.”
The third winning JAMLAB team is Volume News, a start up led by Paul McNally and Roland Perold. It is already delivering local news in local languages to more than 100,000 listeners on community radio stations. Their goal is to grow that to nine million listeners.”It is a massive honour for us to be awarded this grant from SAMIP. This gives us an opportunity to make an even bigger impact on the independent media landscape in South Africa,” says Perold. “We will use the funding to roll out our product to more radio stations and increase our audience, and further improve and develop our suite of products.”
Asmaa Malik, Ryerson University journalism professor and JAMLAB steering committee member, spent time working with the teams on their concepts in August of this year, and worked with De Lanerolle to develop a Creating the Media course introducing the teams to basics in media entrepreneurship. Said Malik: It is amazing news and just the kind of investment opportunity we had hoped would spring from the JAMLAB incubator. The three selected teams, Volume, Soul City and Media Factory, have the potential to majorly disrupt the South African media ecosystem in socially conscious and sustainable ways. This vote of confidence from the South African Media Innovation Program is just what the teams need to kick their projects up to the next level.
For more on the JAMLab, see www.jhr.ca, sign up to the @jamlab newsletter on Medium or follow @jamlab on Twitter.
● Our thanks to CNW Group for sponsoring this announcement
Notes for Editors
Canada’s leading media development organization, JHR helps journalists build their capacity to report ethically and effectively on human rights and governance issues in their communities. Since 2002, JHR has trained over 14,500 journalists across 28 countries whose stories have reached over 50 million people worldwide. JHR currently operates projects in Jordan, South Sudan, Syria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Canada.
SOURCE Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)
For further information: Rachel Pulfer, Executive Director Journalists for Human Rights, 416 413 0240, ext 206, [email protected]