Open Society Foundation launches South Africa Media Innovation Program to fund independent digital media
South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) to provide dedicated funding and capacity building support to independent media in the country, focused on digital innovation.
The Program will promote innovation in the sector, fund the development of public interest digital publications with a focus on young audiences, and drive transformation and foster new and diverse voices.
The SAMIP’s first Innovation Challenge was also launched to identify qualifying projects and organisations that are building news and information products that engage and inform local / underserved communities.
In this first challenge, successful entrants will receive a cash prize of up to ZAR 500 000.00, strategic advice and mentoring by a digital media expert to help them develop a viable business around their product or platform. Entry is open until October 31, 2017.
SAMIP was initiated by the Open Society Foundation of South Africa (OSF-SA) and with the funding support of the Omidyar Network (ON), it will be managed by Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).
The Program will promote and advance media innovation and diversity by new entrants and existing outlets in South Africa, and is built around shared values of editorial independence. It aims to foster an innovative and digitally savvy media sector that prioritises new thinking and sustainable business models.
SAMIP will provide financing and capacity building to existing media outlets with digital-first strategies and sustainable revenue model development, as well as new independent news sites that can provide crucial reporting and information about day-to-day national affairs, showcase investigative reporting, and enable innovative approaches to journalism and citizen / community interaction.
Fatima Hassan, Executive Director of OSF-SA said, “Accurate reporting, non-partisan coverage and information are the lifeblood of any democracy, and particularly in South Africa, given its apartheid past.
The space to report clearly and credibly outside the framework of vested political and commercial interests has narrowed sharply in recent years while transformation remains limited, and there is a strong need to provide support to journalists of colour, especially strengthening the inclusion of women reporters and editors as we make the digital leap. Therefore, we are supporting SAMIP”.
Patrick Gaspard, Vice President of OSF said, “The Open Society Foundations deeply believes in the role of a free and independent press as vital to the preservation of democracy, especially now when freedom of the press is under attack around the globe.
The Media Innovation Program will provide much-needed support to journalists in their drive to hold power accountable while uplifting exciting new voices, seeding technological experimentation, and encouraging risk-taking. I am confident that this program will make a meaningful contribution towards the transformation of a critical industry in South Africa; an industry that is in need of greater diversity.”
Khuram Hussain, Principal- Investments at Omidyar Network said, “SAMIP will play an important role in expanding the scale and reach of independent media in South Africa by supporting existing organisations at the same time as encouraging new entrants, perspectives and voices. We believe that a thriving independent media sector in South Africa is key to providing trusted information, critical checks and balances on those in positions of power and protecting openness and accountability which are the foundations of a healthy democracy. This initiative forms part of Omidyar Network’s global commitment to fund independent media, investigative journalism and to combat the spread of misinformation”.
Harlan Mandel, Chief Executive Officer of MDIF said, “At the heart of the SAMIP is innovation. Innovation in how media is used to find and tell stories, and innovation in developing new and sustainable business models. This is a time of transition for many media companies and successful organisations need to diversify revenue streams and build products that resonate with their audiences. The Program will provide the funding and mentorship needed for the independent media sector to deploy new solutions and reach new audiences”.
The $4 million, 3-year Program will be managed by MDIF with the support of a Local Advisory Committee, made up of media experts, including Mohamed Nanabhay, Justice Malala, Dinesh Balliah, Pontsho Pilane, Khuram Hussain, and Matthew Buckland.