Firstly a special thank you to my friends who have nominated me for the Trufm Youth Awards (Trufm is SABC’s only youth radio station based in Bisho, Eastern Cape). As you all might know by now that on 20th June 2008 I was awarded as a winner in the Media and Communications category at a ceremony held in East London. for more details catch me on Linda’s show (to listen online) next Wednesday.
Some of you have been reading my status updates about an exciting new outreach project (Cellphone Journalism) I’ll be embarking on with Grade 11 learners from Grahamstown’s historically disadvantaged Schools below are the details of the new ground breaking project.
The whole initiative is to “enable young people in Grahamstown to have fun messing around with cellphones in search of formulae to turn the gadgets into a serious platform for journalism.
The idea is to intervene in a context where most cellphone use is still for interpersonal business, rather than participation in mass communication.
Some South Africans use SMSs to vote for celebs or to contribute comments to tickers on television, but using cellphones to send and receive journalistic content regularly is far from mainstream.
As cellphones become more powerful and their screens get bigger, and as the mass media take on board the value of citizen journalism, so the South African public information circuit can extend across the digital divide.
Part of the Rhodes project is using cellphone power to cultivate citizen journalists among local high-school learners. This is a constituency too often bypassed by mainstream news.
An example emerged at recent Rhodes workshops with Grahamstown learners, dealing with the skills to write letters to newspaper editors about the government’s proposed school pledge. A topical subject, one may think — but none of the young people in the sessions had even heard about the controversial proposal.
Over the next year, the cellphone journalism project will offer 80 senior scholars a chance to be part of the information loop by getting targeted news feeds on their cellphones. The content will be about local politics, school news, sports and entertainment, and emanate in part from the Grocott’s Mail newspaper and Rhodes journalism students”.
The project kicks off with a simple sms and later (2009) will expand to multimedia (video, audio and pictures).
This is the first of its kind in South Africa if not Africa or even internationally.