The end of the MCMI pilot phase is in sight this month. This was the last month that we required copy from the participants. Up to date they each have compiled 11 articles that incorporate Wazimap and Municipal Money.
Tricia Govindasamy from Open Data Durban worked on some tutorial videos for the project this month and sent it our way for subbing and input. It was really great to see the end results. We suggested that the videos should have a voice artist to explain what is occurring in the videos. Tricia then used her own voice for the videos which was very soothing and really made an impact.
It came as a bit of a shock when we learnt that Pamella Mashego no longer works for Thaba Chweu News. She was consequently employed by GPS News, one of the other MCMI participants. I am having a meeting with the editor over the weekend to give them an update of the project and to also discuss who they will be appointing in her place and how we can go about training that person on using data tools such as Wazimap and Municipal Money.
We also visited GPS News in Sabie and Bushbuckridge News in Bushbuckridge during February to assist with their copy. We noticed that some basic writing skills were lacking and wanted to sit down with the journalists and explain why we require copy to be written and include certain information and comments. This went well and since the visit, copy has improved. We also taught the newsrooms how to use the 360 camera and took some footage to accompany some of their stories.
We will be paying the participants another visit in March to revise all their copy and also to ensure they understand all the training they have been given and assist where necessary. I definitely find that one-to-one interaction works very well with the participants versus communication over the phone or Skype.
It was very encouraging when an employee of GPS News contacted Tricia directly to ask for additional training on WordPress. It shows that the participants understand how important this training is and want to embrace the skills we can teach them.
Back home I have also noticed how one of my own journalists, Beatrice Shongwe has grown as a leader. Beatrice has been helping out with providing editorial support to the participants and communicating with them to discuss articles etc.
In March, we are looking forward to finalising the participants’ copy and to also start with WordPress training so that they may be able to upload their own stories to their new websites. Then we need to start with an analysis of how effective the project has been.