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Free State kudos in Vodacom journalism awards

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The Central regional awards for the 2017 edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year recently took place where journalists were recognised in 12 categories for outstanding work.

The theme for the awards this year is ‘Your Word’ and promotes the integrity of journalism across all media. This year’s competition drew over 1 000 entries from all over the country, including 188 entries from the Central region.

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The entries across the 12 categories were excellent this year. Our criteria for judging is to look for entries that could possibly make the cut for the national finals, and the overall prize of R100 000 for the journalist of the year award. As always, the entries from the Central region were interesting and enjoyable and, in some cases, even quirky. But all of this is what makes a competition such as the Vodacom Journalist of the Year so special.”

At a function held at the Protea Hotel Bloemfontein, winners in the Regional categories each took home R5 000, with the exception of the Young Journalist of the Year regional finalist, who received a certificate. All the regional winners go through to the national awards in Johannesburg on 16 November 2017.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “We are delighted to announce the Central regional winners in Bloemfontein for the 2017 Awards, which honour journalists from around the country by recognising their best work from the past year. We look forward to welcoming them at the national finals.

I would also like to pay tribute to the judges, who year after year provide their expertise and knowledge in the adjudication of these prestigious awards, thereby ensuring the integrity of the process. Thanks go to Ryland Fisher, Mary Papayya, Arthur Goldstuck, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Megan Rusi,  Mathatha Tshedu, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa.”

The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards in the Central region are:

2017 Radio News

A good Radio News story must fit into a very short time frame with a variety of sound elements, interviews and even translations. Telling a difficult story and balancing different opinions in only a few minutes is a challenge competently achieved by the regional winner: Neo Bodumela of SABC News for “Negligence at Kimberley Hospital” and “Elderly woman raped”.

2017 Radio Feature

Great analysis and story telling with good use of sound clips gave the winning entry all the elements of a good Radio Feature. In addition, it tackled a difficult and extremely sensitive topic in a very professional manner.  The regional winner is: Earl Coetzee of OFM News for “State capture fallout”.

2017 Sport

A beautifully written story made the reporter the judges’ unanimous choice to win the Sport category in the region. The reporter also took all the memorable accompanying action pictures in this story about a schools rugby match. The regional winner is: Christiaan Cloete of Noordkaap Sport for “Northerns Onderskep Sege”.

2017 Sustainability

The judges expected a better response to this category from a region brimming with Sustainability issues. The regional winners, however, did an excellent job in pinpointing the conniving and corruption that confronts and threatens to defeat many of the poor who rely on natural resources for their survival. This specialist category rewards excellent in-depth reporting in any medium and this year, the regional award goes to a thought-provoking and well-produced TV feature: “Vissers debakel” by Keith Sayster and Eddie Stemmet for SABC Fokus.

2017 Print News

The passing of a highly respected and internationally recognised South African literary figure is news. If there is evidence that the person planned his own death, the circumstances become even more newsworthy. The Print News regional winner is: Elsje du Toit of Volksblad for her combined coverage entitled “Karel Schoeman sterf”.

2017 Print Feature

Feature writing allows a journalist to explore and expand the boundaries of print news. From an unlikely start, a story set in a small town in the Northern Cape proved to be irresistibly charming and engaging. The regional winner is: Charne Kemp of Volksblad for “Wat in Vosburg gebeur, bly in Vosburg”.

2017 Online

Fine writing, effective video interviewing and excellent visuals are all elements that draw the reader into an Online story. Another temptation in online journalism is to focus only on issues of the day or fall-out from major stories or social crises. But our regional online winner brought to life a strong human-interest story: Andre Damons of Netwerk24 for “Vir 18 jaar het hy dwelmhonde opgelei”.

2017 Financial/Economic

Financial and economic issues are a fundamental media beat because they reflect the impact of political power and decision making on community and individual welfare. These aspects were particularly highlighted in the debacle over SASSA payment management. This category rewards excellent in-depth reporting in any medium and our winners combined in a TV feature elegant contextualisation with moving interviews from victims. The winners are: Keith Sayster and Jabulani O-A Afrika of SABC News for “SASSA uncertainty”.

Photography

Creativity is tested to the limit and all photographic elements used to portray the beauty of our country is portrayed in a new light in this creative photo essay. These outstanding images show the unusual transformation of nature when winter snow and ice start to dominate the South African landscape. The regional winner is: Mlungisi Louw of Volksblad for “It’s South Africa”.

2017 Television News

The right to education is enshrined in the South African Constitution – but it is far from easy to enforce if you are disabled and living in the Northern Cape when you may have to wait up to four years to find a school that will accept you. The TV news regional winner highlighted the plight of these learners: Refilwe Gaeswe, freelancing for SABC TV for “Education denied for Northern Cape children with a disability”.

2017 Television Feature

Some communities have to adapt more than others to the demands of our rapidly changing economy to integrate a rich culture, heritage and age-old ways of survival with an uncertain present. Shot beautifully, the winning TV Feature brought to the fore people on the outskirts of society. The regional winners are: Keith Sayster and Gerhard Botes of SABC Fokus for “Karretjie mense”.

Young Journalist Award

The winner in the region gets a certificate and goes through to the national round to compete for the overall prize. The overall award provides an opportunity to fast track a young journalist’s professional and personal development through an all-expenses paid overseas trip that includes a visit to the renowned Thomson Foundation, as well as the opportunity to work in a newsroom overseas. To enter this category, the journalist should have worked in the media for up to, but not more than three years, and be able to demonstrate their potential through their entries. The winner is Katleho Morapela from OFM News.

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How to rob a bank in the 21st century

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In the early 1980s, South Africans were gripped by tales of the most infamous bank robbery gangs the country had ever known: The Stander Gang. The gang would boldly walk into banks, brandishing weapons, demand cash and simply disappear. These days, a criminal doesn’t even have to be in the same country as the bank he or she intends to rob. Cyber criminals are quite capable of emptying bank accounts without even stepping out of their own homes.

As we become more and more aware of cybersecurity and the breaches that can occur, we’ve become more vigilant. Criminals, however, are still going to follow the money and even though security may be beefed up in many organisations, hackers are going to go for the weakest links. This makes it quintessential for consumers and enterprises to stay one step ahead of the game.

“Not only do these cyber bank criminals get away with the cash, they also end up damaging an organisation’s reputation and the integrity of its infrastructure,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa. “And sometimes, these breaches mean they get away with more than just cash – they can make off with data and personal information as well.”

Because the cyber criminals operate outside bricks and mortar, going for the cash register or robbing the customers is not where their misdeeds end. Bank employees – from the tellers to the CEO – are all fair game.

But how do they do it? Taking money out of an account is not the only way to steal money. Cyber criminals can zero in on the bank’s infrastructure, or hack into payment systems and even payment documents. Part of a successful operation for them may also include hacking into telecommunications to gain access to one-time pins or mobile networks.

“It’s not just about hacking,” says Siriniwasa.. “It’s also about the hackers trying to get an ‘inside man’ in the bank who could help them or even using a person’s personal details to get a new SIM so that they can have access to OTPs. Of course, they also use the tried and tested method of phishing which continues to be exceptionally effective – despite the education in the market to thwart it.”

The amounts of malware and available attacks to gain access to bank funds is strikingly vast and varies from using web injection script, social engineering and even targeting internal networks as well as points of sale systems. If there is an internet connection and a system you can be assured that there is a cybercriminal trying to crack it. The impact on the bank itself is also massive, with reputations left in tatters and customers moving their business elsewhere.

“We see that cyber criminals use multi-faceted attacks,” says Siriniwasa. “This means that we need to come at security from multiple angles as well. Every single layer of an organisation’s online perimeter need to be secured. Threat isolation is exceptionally important and having security with intrusion protection is vital. Again, vigilance on the part of staff and customers also goes a long way to preventing attacks. These criminals might not carry guns like Andre Stander and his gang, but they are just as dangerous – in fact – probably more so.”

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Beaten by big data? AI is the answer

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by ZAKES SOCIKWA, cloud big data and analytics lead at Oracle

In 2019, it’sestimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any modern organisation, and while most have access to their internal data, they continue to experience challenges in deriving maximum value through being able to effectively monetise the information that they hold.

The foundation of any analytics or Business Intelligence (BI) reporting capability is an efficient data collection system that ensures events/transactions are properly recorded, captured, processed and stored. Some of this information on its own might not provide any valuable insights, but if it is analysed together with other sources might yield interesting patterns.

Big data opens up possibilities of enhancing internal sources with unstructured data and information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Furthermore, as we move to a digital age, more businesses are implementing customer experience solutions and there is a growing need for them to improve their service and personalise customer engagements.

The digital behaviour of customers, such as social media postings and the networks or platforms they engage with, further provides valuable information for data collection. Information gathering methods are being expanded to accommodate all types and formats of data, including images, videos, and more.

In the past, BI and Data Mining were left to highly technical and analytical individuals, but the introduction of data visualisation tools is democratising the analytics world. However, business users and report consumers often do not have a clear understanding of what they need or what is possible.

AI now embedded into day to day applications

To this end, artificial intelligence (AI) is finishing what business intelligence started. By gathering, contextualising, understanding, and acting on huge quantities of data, AI has given rise to a new breed of applications – one that’s continuously improving and adapting to the conditions around it. The more data that is available for the analysis, the better is the quality of the outcomes or predictions.

In addition, AI changes the productivity equation for many jobs by automating activities and adapting current jobs to solve more complex and time-consuming problems, from recruiters being able to source better candidates faster to financial analysts eliminating manual error-prone reporting.

This type of automation will not replace all jobs but will invent new ones. This enables businesses to reduce the time to complete tasks and the costs of maintenance, and will lead to the creation of higher-value jobs and new engagement models. Oracle predicts that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI, emerging technologies, and augmented experiences could double compared to today’s operations.

According to the IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions was expected to total $166 billion in 2018, and forecast to reach $260 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% over the 2017-2022 forecast period. It adds that two of the fastest growing BDA technology categories will be Cognitive/AI Software Platforms (36.5% CAGR) and Non-relational Analytic Data Stores (30.3% CAGR)¹.

Informed decisions, now and in the future

As new layers of technology are introduced and more complex data sources are added to the ecosystem, the need for a tightly integrated technology stack becomes a challenge. It is advisable to choose your technology components very carefully and always have the end state in mind.

More development on emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, virtual reality and others will probably be available on cloud first before coming on premise. For those organisations that are adopting public cloud, there are opportunities to consume the benefits of public cloud and drive down costs of doing business.

While the introduction of public cloud is posing a challenge on data sovereignty and other regulations, technology providers such as Oracle have developed a ‘Cloud at Customer’ model that provides the full benefits of public cloud – but located on premise, within an organisation’s own data centre.

The best organisations will innovate and optimise faster than the rest. Best decisions must be made around choice of technology, business processes, integration and architectures that are fit for business. In the information marketplace, speed and informed decision making will be key differentiators amongst competitors.

¹ IDC Press Release, Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries, According to IDC, 15 August 2018

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