‘B Media Ys’ New Media Skills Development Tour in South Africa
On 2 September 2012, as part of the European Journalism Centre’s (EJC) five-year Netherlands Foreign Ministry funded project Press Freedom 2.0, the EJC and its South African partner organisation, Vuselela Media, launched a two-month national skills development tour, visiting nine community centres and twenty-seven high schools across South Africa.
The tour formed an integral part of the ‘B Media Ys’ project, which is aimed at empowering young South Africans to use their mobile phones to document events and issues in their communities. B Media Ys also provides the students it trains with the opportunity to share their hyper-local news stories on national and community TV, as well as on a new African mobile content-sharing platform.
The tour, run by the B Media Ys team of young TV journalists, targeted some of South Africa’s main poverty nodes. These are areas the government has identified as being in urgent need of uplifting because of their high rate of unemployment and HIV/AIDS prevalence.
The tour focused its training on peer mentors in each of the communities it visited, giving them the skills to train other young citizen journalists in the community and high school students between the ages of 15 and 18.
The purpose of the tour was to empower young South Africans, especially those from marginalised communities, to become informed, analytical, discerning and active media consumers who are also able to produce their own content across a variety of media platforms so that they can add to the national debate and contribute in a meaningful way to a democratic South Africa,” said Lisa Blakeway, Executive Director of Vuselela Media.
The ‘B Media Ys’ national tour led to the creation of more than 1,500 mobile phone videos addressing a range of issues from lack of facilities in rural schools and ineffectual teaching staff to teenage pregnancy, gang violence and bullying.
People need to know what we are dealing with, they need to see we are here too,” said Samuel Phiri, a Grade 11 participant at Orange Farm High School.
During the course of their training, participants were given basic journalism skills and were each required to create a one- to two-minute video, shot on a cell phone, exposing an issue facing the youth in their community. They were also encouraged to try and find positive solutions to these problems.
In September and October, a selection of some of the best video clips produced by the students trained on the tour were featured on SABC1, as well as on five community TV stations (Soweto TV, Cape TV, 1KZN TV, Tshwane TV and Mandela Bay TV).
In spite of the poor sound quality of the videos, the broadcasters all felt that the strength of the content more than compensated for the technical weaknesses. They have all committed to continuing to broadcast more ‘B Media Ys’ content in 2013.
One of the main aims of ‘B Media Ys’ is to get young people networking and engaging with each other about the issues they face so that there is an ongoing exchange of ideas and possible solutions. The videos created by the young cell phone citizen journalists (CCJs) during the course of the ‘B Media Ys’ tour were therefore also uploaded to Bozza, a new mobile content-sharing platform that makes it possible for young people across Africa to share their stories with each other at virtually no cost.
Some of the user-generated content created by the ‘B Media Ys’ course participants is also featured every week in the ‘Street Squad’ segment of ‘Bona Retsang’, a weekly youth news and current affairs TV show launched in October by Vuselela Media in partnership with Dutch media NGO Free Press Unlimited and its global ‘Kids News Network’.Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) and local HIV/AIDS-awareness group loveLife, an organisation that promotes education around HIV-prevention and other youth-related issues.
The EJC and Vuselela Media will continue to provide new media skills training and ongoing support to the schools and communities visited on this year’s ‘B Media Ys’ skills tour, as well as expand their training into new areas in 2013. This will include working with young people linked to some of the Dutch organisation Mensen met een Missie’s local partners.
To view some of the mobile citizen video journalism footage produced by young South Africans, please click here.
For more information please contact Project Manager Marjan Tillmans.