Author: Blyth Morrell Page 1 of 2

#MMX15 Recap: Innovation Complications

Laurie and Andrew

Keynote speaker Andrew Phelps (left) speaks with MMX Director Laurie Bley (center) and Editorial Director Tanya Pampalone (right) (Photo: Dianne Hawker).

After and an eventful first day at the MMX15 the keynote address was conducted by Andrew Phelps, strategic product manager at the New York Times who enthusiastically greeted the audience isiZulu.

His address highlighted some interesting facts about the changing landscape of print media in the U.S. over the past 60 years. Specifically the shift in focus from advertising to a prioritisation in digital output.

Phelps primarily focused on the Innovation Report conducted by the NY Times in which audience development and digital-first culture were central to the report. Over the past five years (2011-2014) mobile viewing of the NY Times has soared enormously with over 300 million views and saw a decline in home page viewing. What this means is that audience development becomes central in reaching a wider audience in the digital space.

Digital-first culture as the second strategy aimed to change the Times and allow it to be a space of innovation. “Print is no longer the beginning of the conversation it’s now at the end of the process. Reporting starts with your audience” he stressed. For example the collaboration they did with the new Apple Watch pushed them to create content that is short and interactive for the individual. With this they developed a new form of storytelling starting with the user and the device. The feedback they received was overwhelmingly positive as well as personal in that the cultural change shifted the way people talk about digital.

Phelps advises organisations to take risks in the year in order to maximise output and audience.

Sihle Mtshiselwa & Amanda Murimba, MMX15 Student Newsroom

#MMX15 Recap: How We Covered It


Songezo Zibi and Palesa Morudu discuss the year’s biggest news stories at their MMX15 panel. (Photo: Liesl Roos)

Saturday morning’s first panel focused on the South African media’s coverage of 2015’s biggest stories, including xenophobia, the electricity crisis, disruptions in parliament, and the economy. Led by moderator Ben Said of eNCA, the panelists — Palesa Morudu (columnist), Shaka Sisulu (media strategist), Songezo Zibi (Business Day), and John Perlman (KAYA FM) — spoke on the issue of journalism’s “pack mentality” and how it affected recent news stories. One of the largest themes discussed by the panel was journalistic rhythm, which Sisulu described as the phenomenon of “the big flare — we’re all going to rush to it, stand around the fire, talk about it, and then rush to the next disaster.” However, this approach often results in a lack of context around the story. According to the panel, the media must encourage a better quality of debate, a range of viewpoints, and more extended coverage of major events in order to rectify coverage deficiencies. And, perhaps most importantly, as Zibi noted, the news media must remember that “There’s a difference between an interesting story and the most important story.”

-Erin Brown, MMX15 Student Newsroom 

#MMX15 Recap: Laughing at Ourselves

Loyiso Gola roasts the South African media, Saturday 13 June (Photo: Dianne Hawker)

Loyiso Gola roasts the South African media, Saturday 13 June (Photo: Dianne Hawker)

The MMX programme kicked off Saturday morning with a presentation from Loyiso Gola and Kagiso Lediga, roasted the South African media houses and quickly got the audience laughing at … itself. ANN7, the SABC and eNCA were among the victims of the roast. Gola took a swipe at the SABC making reference to the issue of the qualifications of the executives. This had the audience in stitches. Then Lediga added that ANN7 were in the “Mvela League” of the media rankings, implying that they were at the bottom. With eNCA, the duo made it known that the media house was their employer, but that didn’t mean they were safe from becoming the butt of jokes. The duo said that eNCA likes to make ridiculous but entertaining stories, making reference to a story about one their reporters going to work on a bicycle. Most of the jokes highlighted the problems and shortfalls in the media, but in an effective way that had the audience both thinking and laughing about itself.

Refiloe Benjamin, Dineo Phoshoko and Keneiloe Kotlolo, MMX15 Student Newsroom


#MMX15 Recap: Lessons from the New York Times Innovation Report

According to Andrew Phelps, co-author of the New York Times Innovation Report, these are some ways you and your news organisation can make your journalism more relevant and engaging:

  1. Repackage old stories. Give the stories some new colour and perhaps new framing, then go ahead and reuse them. As long as the audience will still find the content relevant, you might as well.
  2. Leverage influences. Get influential people to help you to share your stories. By doing this they will help you to get your stories out to the audiences.
  3. Embrace email. Even in this age of texting and social media, email is still a great way to communicate directly to people.
  4. Ask for feedback. Ask your audience to give you feedback. Out of the feedback you can learn more about what the audience likes and dislikes.
  5. Organise evergreen stories. Make sure that your stories are arranged in the order of relevance and not by dates. If they are organised by dates, you risk important but not necessarily timely stories getting “lost” and not read.
  6. Promote one story a day. Make use of a story and see how far you could go with it. Put it on different platforms and see where it goes. If it doesn’t work try again.
  7. Encourage and reward experimentation. Try new ways of writing and packaging stories and reward your staff for thinking outside the box — even when it doesn’t work.
  8. Kill average ideas. Don’t get used to average ideas. It will only make you average. Think of new, creative ideas and run with them.

-Pieter Roos, MMX15 Student Newsroom

#MMX15 Recap: How to think like a start up

Maybe you’re familiar with this problem: you have a great idea but don’t know how to go about manifesting it into something feasible and worth being proud of. Start ups allow you to develop your idea into something you can build, and you do not need a huge financial budget to go about it.

That was the message from Max Kaizen of Treeshake at her workshop Friday on how to think like a start up. She explored methods one could employ while trying to build this model and urged those interested to step out of their journalism suits and think like scientists.

She proposed the following five short tips to help keep track of your growth process while attempting to build your idea.

1. Employ the scientific method — Think like an anthropologist. This means start observing the space around you and where you could maximise your idea.

2. Experiment — develop your idea into something feasible. I.e. a prototype.

3. Test — get physically involved with your potential consumer in order to sell them your ambition about the idea.

4. Feedback plus measure — define what your model looks like and see how people are responding to your idea.

5. Validate — this involves tweaking your prototype to make it better for consumption by larger audiences.

Kaizen further advised on the importance of keeping score about your progress. Every day your team should go through what they did the day before, she said, and then assess what you are going to do that day. If necessary, have conversations about what you’re stuck.

Sihle Mtshiselwa, MMX15 Student Newsroom

#MMX15 Recap: Free tools for digital storytelling


Tegan Bedser of the SABC talks about free options for making your digital storytelling pop. (Photo: Nombulelo Manyana)

Laura Grant, associate editor at the Mail & Guardian, and Tegan Bedser, a digital media specialist at SABC, spoke about what kind of story telling tools new age journalists can use in the creation and distribution of content. They advised that story telling tools such as infographics, presentations and timelines, alongside audio, text and visuals make stories stand out and make them easier for audiences to read.

Some of the software tools journalists should consider using are Shorthand social (used by eNCA), Atavist and Story Map, all of which are platforms that allow for the use of multimedia. They however advise that before using such tools, it is important to plan stories carefully, dividing them into chapters therefore making them easy to read.

Carol Kagezi, MMX15 Student Newsroom


#MMX15 Recap: What advertisers really want


Jeremy Maggs (right) and Ivan Moroke discuss the puzzle of what advertisers really want (Photo: Pieter Roos)

A panel discussion hosted by Jeremy Maggs of Maggs on Media Friday afternoon discussed issues around branding of content in journalism. The panellists included Patrick Conroy, head of news at eNCA, Ivan Moroke from TBWA South Africa, Tom Manners, managing director at Clockwork Media, and Fran Luckin, the executive creative director for Quirk Jozi. The discussion focused mainly on brands being marketed by journalists, what advertisers really want and how brands can use content and how content producers can use brands.

There is often a debate about the authenticity, quality and usefulness of content being marketed by journalists, but the panellists suggested that there is nothing wrong with branded content being produced by journalists as long as it does not interfere with editorial policies. One way to ensure this would be for the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) to include branding in its editorial policies. That way there would be a clearly defined regulation on the relationship between branding and journalism. In general, brands and media organisations can engage in a mutually beneficial relationship as they still very much need each one another. Ultimately great content benefits both the consumer and the brand.

Refiloe Benjamin, Dineo Phoshoko and Keneiloe Kotlolo, MMX15 Student Newsroom

#MMX15 Recap: Building your social media brand

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MMX15 attendees take notes at a workshop Friday afternoon. (Photo: Dianne Hawker)


Jay Z once said, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”

Social media trainer Gus Silber used this quote at his MMX15 workshop Friday afternoon to explain the importance of branding for journalists. His workshop offered several small but important lessons about how one builds this kind of personal brand.

Journalists should not involve themselves in the story or become the story itself, he said, but they still need to brand themselves. He emphasised the importance of journalists using social media. In the cyberspace, he pointed out, traditional journalistic jargon has changed — readers are now users, stories are content and reporters are producers and news has become a commodity used by journalists to brand themselves.

The perfect equation for a journalist to properly brand themselves consists of this — a name, reputation, voice and presence. Of these, reputation will always be the most important. On social media, your reputation is rooted in your authority, trust and credibility. There are a few ways to build your brand as a journalist on social media, One particularly valuable one is to establish your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) based on your areas of interest and expertise. It is also advisable to always be thinking and linking and to be as interesting as you are interested on social media.

-Dineo Phoshoko and Keneiloe Kotlolo, MMX15 Student Newsroom // University of Johannesburg

#MMX15 Recap: Building Brand Trust

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Amy Selwyn (centre) and Cornelis Jacobs chat with participants at Menell Media Exchange 2015 (Photo: Dianne Hawker)

How do brands build trust in this era of digital content, social media, and media disruption?

That was the topic tackled by Storytegic co-founders Cornelis Jacobs and Amy Selwyn at their MMX15 workshop Friday afternoon.

They delved into explaining how brands trust starts at home and how experience with brands build loyalty. According to Jacobs, building a news brand takes years of work. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Jacobs and Selwyn gave three examples of how smart news agencies are successfully building their brand.

Firstly, they have a comprehensive and realistic social media policy. Secondly, when they make mistakes they take responsibility and address it head on. Lastly, they live the brand, meaning that they embody the values of the organisation.

The overall takeaway was that brand trust is more than interactions with that brand. It’s the feeling you get when you see their logo.

-Nombulelo Manyana, MMX15 Student Newsroom 

#MMX14 Recap: Digital disruption, some instagrams

From Anthea Garman, associate professor of journalism at Rhodes University, comes this reflection on the “changes and challenges of this media moment,” as experienced at MMX14.

““Digital disruption” doesn’t fallen into the neat pessimism or optimism so emblematic of our times but does say forcefully that we are all on uncertain ground and need to reconfigure our ways of doing and being in media making, media managing and in education.”

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