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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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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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