Local Secondary school learners from disadvantaged sectors of the Grahamstown community are getting the opportunity to put cell phones to use in interactive journalism.
These 80 scholars are using their cellular phones to contribute to Grocott’s Mail (a Grahamstown community news paper). The project is three-fold meaning; the learners will provide opinion smses on stories published on Grocott’s Mail, mini-news stories around their communities and Japanese haiku poetry examples at the bottom.
The outreach project commenced on 2 August with workshops for the Rhodes students volunteers who were being sensitized to the project. This was followed with a series of workshops with the school learners that started on 9 August; where they were give basic skills of writing a news story, structuring your opinion and how to write a Japanese Haiku poetry.
This year (phase 1) layed the foundation of the project limiting it to text messages only. Phase 2 of the project next year will have multimedia content i.e. pictures, videos, audio and text and will also be uploaded to http://www.grocotts.co.za. The learners will be in their final year of secondary education (hopefully) and I hope they will go on to study Journalism and Media Studies in the future and become professional journalists.
This project is also a platform for the learners to express their opinions and tell their own stories from their own perspective.
This is not the end; I’m still researching how I can find a kind of Mxit system that will allow everyone to send mini-news stories, opinions etc. at a cheaper rate (so if you’re a guru in tech and got some ideas drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the smses the learners sent:
These opinions were based on a story of a Local (Grahamstown) Municipal Councillor who had crashed a second car in less than 2 months, hired to him by the municipality.
Mancipality is jst wstng muny by rentng carz 4 da cancilor he cud hv jst usd da money 4 da poor 1z.Da cansilor wnt stp crshng bcz he knw hz nt gona pay.
UGCINELWENI!I thnk ths conclr mst b rmvd 4rm kla psitn,cz nxt tym it wnt b da cr bt hs own lyf n ada ppls lyf.So it mst b tkn in2 cnsidrtn rly!ITS DANGEROUS!
Mini-news sms stories:
In Joza, Maseti str. There was a sewage burts, the owner of the house was nt home,wen she came bck there were people 4rom the Municipality trying 2 cleane!
Teachers at Nombulelo high ar complainig, about corruption at school.This include learners who come 2 shool drunk. So the comunity got involved.
Japanese Haiku poetry:
Tension, so thick…u can almost cut it with a knife-then da teacher farts
LIFE.Life is like clock ;swings on bright golden chain;ticking very sofetly ;battery went off
Alwys evil,very protective,hate all guys(my mother-in-law)
Silky soft fabric,rip,tear and feel it, what a dirty shirt
The learners had an opportunity to share their experiences, sharing the stage with Dan Gillmor author of the book “We the Media” at Highway Africa Conference (the biggest gathering of journalists from around Africa and abroad.
This project has been made possible by funding from the United States-based Knight Foundation and Cape Town based Open Society Foundation. Cambridge University Press (Cape Town) also contributed by sponsoring the learners with bags, folders, pens and T-shirts.