A South African news wire service that links community radio journalists with mainstream news outlets is among six media start-ups being supported by a new media innovation program run by Canadian and South African partners.
The goal of Volume News, led by veteran South African broadcaster Paul McNally, is to boost the amount of local news content on radio stations from the current level of only 14 per cent to the 60 per cent required by law.
Asmaa Malik, an assistant professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism, said encouraging journalism entrepreneurs to pursue projects like Volume News is one way to address the many challenges faced by South African media: “There are so many different languages, there are so many complications for niche markets in South Africa,” she said. “Everyone is struggling with people paying for information. The program is giving [innovators] who are thinking differently about media a voice and a way for them to think creatively about these challenges.”
Malik is part of the team behind the Journalism and Media Lab (JAMLAB), an accelerator run by Wits Journalism with the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering in partnership with Ryerson University and Journalists for Human Rights. Also on the team is Wits University lecturer Indra de Lanerolle, director of the JAMLAB.
JAMLAB, which launched in June 2017, is a six-month accelerator program that provides journalism innovators with tools, facilities, contacts and support as they build their media startups. It also produces an online magazine to showcase innovations and innovators, share experiences of using new technologies and tools, and provide access to research. At the end of the program, the six teams pitched their innovative companies to a panel of investors at the Nov. 15 JAMLAB Demo Day. The advisory team is currently working to raise funds to organize the program again next year.