Disruption: Challenges and Innovations Transforming South African Media

News organizations are facing a rapidly changing technology and business environment. New platforms, new technologies and new business models are leaving many in the industry grappling with ways to adapt. These shifts are affecting how stories are reported, produced, and delivered, to increasingly savvy and diverse consumers. But these changes are also opening the doors for new kinds of storytelling, showcasing stories that couldn’t or haven’t been told before, being told in new ways and invigorating the entire media culture.  Our series of workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities are an attempt to bring these issues to the table so that we can support and enable journalists and journalism, serving both our bottom line as well as the public in ways that strengthen democracy, society, and good old fashioned storytelling.

Join us for two days of Interaction, Ideas, and Inspiration.

@ The Campus/The Forum, Bryanston, Johannesburg (venue details)

July 25 and 26, 2014




Friday, July 25

12:00 – 4:00

Workshops will run simultaneously in two breakaway rooms and the auditorium for small group discussions, hands-on learning and big idea exchanges. Full descriptions of the workshops are listed below.

Main Stage Program: Keynote Address

4:00   Welcome by Mary Menell Zients

Keynote Address: “The Upside of Disruption”, by Bill Adair, Knight Chair in Digital Journalism, Pulitzer Prize winning founder of Politifact. Q&A.

5:30   Networking reception in the main hall and Expo


Saturday, July 26

9:30 – 4:30

Main Stage Program


Part 1 – Change and Challenges

  • Challenges of the New Newsroom: The Business of Change, The Politics of Change It’s all arrived fast and furious: newsroom convergence, multi-platform integration, the 24 hour news cycle, financial model collapse, branded journalists, paywalls, crowd-sourced stories and native advertising – amid our uniquely South African backdrop there is a dire need to address transformation in the media sector. Songezo Zibi, Business Day, will kick off the discussion with “Transformation in the Media and the Role of the ‘new’ Editor”. He will be followed by a panel of newsroom leaders who will speak about their challenges working in the new media paradigm in South Africa.

Songezo Zibi, Editor, Business Day

Adriaan Basson, Editor, Beeld

Patrick Conroy, Managing Director, eNCA

Glenda Daniels, Media Scholar, University of Witwatersrand [moderator]


  • Taking Satire Seriously –Comedy that rocks the boat. Over the past few years, various forms of art has been met with outrage, with marches and calls from the government to take everything from the likes of editorial cartoons portraying the Prophet Mohammed to paintings such as Brett Murray’s The Spear out of the public realm. The latest such incident was in May on Dr Jack’s cartoon depicting ministers as clown and voters as ‘poepols’, which was pulled off the Eyewitness News website after the ANC complained that it was racist commentary. Is there a point where satire crosses the line, out of the bounds of free speech? Where is that line? Are our editors folding under pressure from government? Our panel of comedians, cartoonists, free speech attorneys and editors come together to discuss media freedom and media responsibility, and what’s fair in the funny game.

Nic Dawes, Editor, Hindustan Times

Loyiso Gola, Loyiso, Live with Loyiso

Kagiso Lediga, producer, Live with Loyiso

Phaledi Gwangwa, Station Manager, Talk Radio 702, Primedia

Dario Milo, Media Law, Webber Wentzel [moderator]



Part 2 – Innovation and Transformation


  • Doing Less with Less: Lessons Learned From coping and adapting to hacking the whole media model. Shrinking newsrooms and slim budgets are hitting up against the tide of the insatiable beast that is the 24-hour news cycle and social media that begs to be constantly fed. It has forced editors to come up with innovative ways to deliver the news with an eye steadily fixed on the profit line. But what has become increasingly clear is that not every website can be everything to every reader. Each newsroom is going to have to focus on what they do best, and make it even better. South Africa’s top editors get together to talk about what has worked, and what hasn’t, to find out how we can all thrive, without losing sight of the basics: credible stories well told.

Styli Charalambous, Publisher and CEO, Daily Maverick   [moderator]

Tim Cohen, Editor, Financial Mail

Nic Dawes, Editor, Hindustan Times

Pheladi Gwangwa, Station Manager, Talk Radio 702, Primedia

Mapi Mhlangu, News Editor, eNCA


  • Spin, Lies and Video Tape: The Rise of the Truth-0-Meter

Bill Adair, Founder, Politifact; Knight Chair Duke University

Julian Rademeyer, Editor, AfricaCheck


  • Africa Telling Africa’s Story Part I. New Storytelling for the Continent The era of outsiders telling Africa’s tory is finally coming to an end. The rise of African websites, blogs, radio stations, TV news stations and all sorts of print and digital publications means that the continent is increasingly in a position to talk about itself. But there is still a long way to go. What can we do to tell our stories better? What’s hampering the proliferation of even more media outlets on the continent? How are Africa’s laws impeding sound reporting and threatening media freedom? How do we choose the stories we tell about ourselves and why are there so few? Our panel discusses ways that we can control the story of our own continent.

Sue Valentine, Africa Chief, Committee to Protect Journalists [moderator]

Robyn Kriel, East Africa Bureau Chief, eNCA

Justine Limpitlaw, Media Law, University of Witwatersrand

Bongani Madondo, Mail and Guardian

Sisonke Msimang, Independent Blogger, Columnist, Daily Maverick

David Smith, Okapi Consulting


  • Africa Telling Africa’s Story Part II: Digital Media Innovation New ways to deliver and consume news are at our fingertips, with more coming out every day. There are so many that it’s hard to figure out what to focus on. How does a good journalist focus on the best ways to tell our uniquely African stories? Our panel of technology experts and expert story-tellers come together to talk about the best tools, resources and styles of delivery that will help us all tell the best stories possible – and deliver them to an increasingly savvy and diverse public.

Charles Onyango-Obbo, Africa Editor, Mail and Guardian

Antony Altbeker, Lecturer, University of Witwatersrand, Editor, Mampoer

Taiwo Kola-Ongunlade, Media Trainer, Google Africa

Ben Said, Group News Editor, eNCA

Tyler Dukes, The Reporters’ Lab

Gus Silber, Independent Journalist, Author, Social Media Maverick

Izak Minnaar, Editor, Digital News, South African Broadcasting Corp.



Friday Workshops


Tech Tools

  • Data Journalism 101, with Tyler Dukes, The Reporter’s Lab. The best way to get your hands dirty with data journalism is to learn by example. We’ll review the last year’s best data reporting from Europe, Africa and the Americas and examine how newsrooms small and large turned ideas into blockbuster stories for broadcast, print and Web.
  • Google Tools Re-Shaping Media, with Taiwo Kola Ofunlade, Google Africa (sponsored by Google Africa). How to use Google tools for reporting. Online tools are changing the practice of newsgathering, presentation and engagement. We’ll take a look at tools like Google+, YouTube, Online Forms, Google Earth, Fusion Tables and Map Engine
  • Going Social: Using Social Media for Journalism, with Gus Silber. All journalism is by nature “social”, and social media allow us to extend that principle through persistent, always-on, easily accessible communication platforms. We will look at using social media in new, interesting, and effective ways (using  Twitter and Instagram in particular), but also looking at the art of the short blog-post as a way of showcasing stories in more detail.  We will also look at social media as “tools of engagement and conversation”, to build even stronger connections with your audience as a journalist and a radio station. The focus here will be on using social media as tools for finding interesting stories in your community, and then as platforms for sharing and telling these stories through the “voice” of your listeners as well as your own skills as a mobile journalist. This session will also focus on the art of “live-tweeting”.


Idea Labs 

  • Tiptoeing the Legal Minefields of Media Freedom: Media Law and a Guide to the legal traps in SA with Dario Milo, Media Lawyer at WeberWentzel and William Bird, Media Monitoring Africa. The courts have opened to TV cameras, a ‘secrecy bill’ succeeded in Parliament and ongoing claims of defamation. Just where are the pitfalls and what must journalists know to avoid lawsuits and the slammer?
  • Game Changers:The Rise of Internet Radio, with Gareth Cliff, founder Cliff Central. What does it mean when the country’s biggest radio star has dropped the airwaves for the internet? Conversation with a game changer who is shaking up the industry. Gareth Cliff and his team.
  • The Art of Thinking & Reporting Visually, with Gus Silber, new media maverick. A big part of the art of being a journalist lies in sharpening your ability to take your audience straight to the scene, by painting pictures in words or, well, in pictures. Thinking and reporting visually means seeing the story as it unfolds, and zooming in on the smallest details as well as panning the Big Picture. Having a smartphone with you means you are now able to take “visual notes”, as well as capture the story in compelling imagery for your readers. Every mobile journalist should be capable of shooting a publishable pic or a broadcastable video, so the focus here will be on practical, creative tools, tips, and techniques for shooting great photographs and video, using your smartphone and your instincts as a journalist. The quality of visual imagery is one of the key points of difference between the citizen journalist and the working professional, so we’ll focus on ways of making your visuals stand out from the pack, and give you a competitive advantage as well.
  • Writing and Blogging for Visual Thinkers, with Tanya Pampalone, Mail & Guardian. So you’ve got the story – at least in images. Now it’s time to write. What’s the story again? Where do you start? Where does it end? Who do you need to talk to and what details are important to leave in and what should you leave out? In this workshop we’ll touch on some of the basics of story structure and elements as well as get some creative tips and techniques to make your story not just work, but pop off the page or the screen.
  • Only the Paranoid Survive: Practical Security for Reporters and Editors, with Philip de Wet, Mail & Guardian. Not every reporter is covering the workings of a clandestine security agency or protecting sources on the lam from the government. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to take reasonable precautions when working with whistle-blowers or other sources who are hesitant to talk to journalists. Learn how you can protect your work and those who trust you to keep their personal information close, how to secure your computer, your phone, and your documents in the post-Snowden era.


Learners’ Labs:

  • Managing your Digital Reputation and Creating an Online Portfolio, discussion with Khadija Patel, The Daily Vox, Zama Ndlovu, Business Day, with special presentation film by Sasha Zeints, Columbia University and David Graham, Political Editor, Atlantic Magazine.
  • The Apprentice: How to get Hired and Stay Hired, a conversation with SA editors. A chance to find out what they’re looking for. With Adriaan Basson, Beeld, Mapi Mhlangu, eNCA, Nic Dawes, Hindustan Times, Tim Cohen, Financial Mail, Phaledi Gwangwa, Station Manager, Talk Radio 702.


Leaders’ Labs: (By Invitation Only) 

  • Lessons Learned: A roundtable for newsroom leaders, editors and managers to show and tell of newsroom innovations that worked and, perhaps, crashing failures that educate.
  • Conversation with Jeff Zients. Discussion examining the dual requirements of the media: to succeed as businesses, but at the same time provide a public good, i.e., content that to challenge power, reveal truth and underpin a free and democratic society. Beholden to both business exigencies and public sector ideals, editors and senior managers have an opportunity in this workshop to benefit from the insights of a person who has excelled in creating management structures for both worlds.