This month was a very exciting month since it was the official start of the Mpumalanga Civic Media Initiative (MCMI) project.
We were very fortunate to welcome Tricia Govindasamy from Open Data Durban (ODD) to the province as she assisted us and the participating newsrooms with training on Wazimaps, social media etc. Driving down from Durban to Mpumalanga and visiting every participating newsroom at their offices was in my opinion, one of the best moves since it gave us real insight into the structure and resources of each newsroom and also to give us an idea of the kind of individuals/journalists we would be working with and the environment they are operating in. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting brings individuals closer and allows the other to acknowledge a face instead of a mere voice.
MCMI visit to Nkomazi Observer in Tonga on Monday, 21 November 2016
The journalist and founder of Nkomazi Observer, Mduduzi Nkosi greatly received the training and vowed to make good use of the tools that were presented to him.
During the training, the journalist and the trainer were interacting very well and questions were allowed when he didn’t understand. A lot of things came to light during the training. Mduduzi realised the importance of using social media to interact with his audience, and he also expressed how he is interested in the projects and said the tools will assist him to report in depth about interesting stories.
“I think this came at the right time and I will take advantage of it. It looks like we are going to have an interesting way of reporting news,” said Mduduzi.
With the challenge of not having a proper office with internet, he found the important to strengthen his publications by getting it more online. He also seems so excited about the feature article which will focus on shortage of water in Tonga. He said the tools will also assist his audience to see the evident of this data on the story.
Tonga is known as a violence area when it comes to poor service deliveries.
MCMI visit to Bushbuckridge News in Bushbuckridge on Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Two journalists participated in this training, Kevin Sibindi and Twarisani Mathebula both keen to learn more about Wazimap and what it can do to improve their reporting, especially in the community.
During the training, there was a bit of confusion understanding the concept behind Wazimap. Both journalists interacted very well and asked questions. This wasn’t an easy training as it seems like they would need more training often to get a clear understanding.
After the training, they both had to work together on a quiz and that part too took longer because they were having some challenges to get around answers. Tricia worked with them and assisted during the quiz because they were having hiccups here and there.
Both journalists found Wazimap interesting because it has all the tools, it also provides evidence for the information you are reporting on. They said this information brings more story ideas to report on.
Journalists were also requested to do a feature article and they chose to work on poor sanitation (toilet facilities). This is one of the huge challenges in Bushbuckridge. The team is requested to get information on the ground and found, get comment from authorities, and use the data on Wazimap.
MCMI visit to GPS News in Sabie on Wednesday, 23 November 2016
The team from GPS News was very welcoming and the team is very professional. Valerie Kemp (editor) and Michelle du Plessis (journalist) were given training on Wazimap and social media and were paying close attention to Tricia’s teachings. They did not hesitate to stop the lesson to ask questions. They were very interactive during the lesson and were brainstorming the entire time about how the programme could be implemented in the day-to-day runnings of the business. We are facing one challenge with this team – the readership of the publication. Valerie believes in publishing “positive news”, as it is referred to in the media industry as it tends to be only uplifting and not merely aimed at blaming government for people’s dire situations. This is not unheard of in community media in South Africa. Some editors are of the opinion that national media and others focus enough on reporting on “negative news” and they would like to change readers’ perceptions by focusing on “positive news”. What makes this challenging for the MCMI project is that majority of the information on Wazimap tends to focus on service delivery issues which is not in the mandate of GPS News to report on. But, TWNA will work with GPS News in identifying angles for their articles that will not compromise the mandate of the newspaper and what their readers want and the aim of the MCMI project. This requires some out of the box thinking but we believe will be an interesting way of compiling articles.
MCMI visit to Thaba Chweu News in Mbombela on Friday, 25 November 2016
The journalist, Pamela Mashego showed a great interest in the tools that were presented to her. During the training Pamela was paying attention and produced great ideas that she came up with on that day.
Having a media background, she didn’t seem to have any challenges to understand the concept behind Wazimap. The journalist told us that she is also keen to write as many stories as possible using the tools.
She also expressed her opinions about how this type of reporting will change her work, as she will be using more data and visuals to tell her story.
The Thaba Chweu Municipality is one of the worst in the country and she said the info on Wazimap testify to that.
Some of the headlines she chose include:
- Water crisis in area
- Communication barrier
- Child headed households
- Poverty and education
Pamela was keen to work on Wazimap to improve her reporting and writing skills.