The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were recently announced from over 1 000 entries received over a variety of categories.
After one of the most hotly contested awards in the competition’s history, due to the extraordinary variety and calibre of entries, the winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were announced this evening. The theme for the awards was ‘Your Word’ and this year over 1 000 entries were received from all over the country across the twelve categories.
The judges agreed that one big story stood head and shoulders above all the others. It is a story which has serious implications for our relatively young democracy (see judges’ full citation below): The Overall National winners are from the competition’s Financial/Economic category for #GuptaLeaks – the team from the Daily Maverick, AmaBhungane and News24: Branko Brkic, Pauli van Wyk, Lester Freamon, Adriaan Basson, Richard Poplak, Adi Eyal, Micah Reddy, Susan Comrie, Angelique Serrao, Stefaans Brummer, Antoinette Muller, Marianne Thamm, Sam Sole, Tabelo Timse, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Craig McKune, Lionel Faull, Rebecca Davis and Sally Evans.
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year has been a particularly good one for South African journalists who have shown that, despite dwindling resources, they are still able to chase big and important stories. It was extremely difficult for the judges to decide on national winners, let alone overall winners, because of the strength of the entries we received. We are proud of the many amazing stories that journalists investigated, once again affirming the important role of the media in a democracy.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “It’s been one of the most exciting awards to date and we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to all of tonight’s winners. Vodacom supports journalistic excellence in South Africa and we are proud that the VJOYs continue to attract world-class submissions.”
“I would also like to pay tribute to our esteemed judges, who give so much time and effort to the adjudication process every year. Our sincere thanks go to Ryland Fisher, Mary Papayya, Arthur Goldstuck, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Megan Rusi, Mathatha Tsedu, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa.”
Veteran journalist Dr. Phil Mtimkulu is the winner of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. He was one of the founding members of the Union of Black Journalists in 1972 and was its secretary when it was banned on October 19, 1977 along with other black consciousness organisations and three publications. After the ban lapsed, Dr. Mtimkulu went on to forge an illustrious career in journalism, working for The Sowetan as a journalist and for The Star as assistant news editor. In 1987 he joined academia, teaching at Unisa and taking his work as a journalist to a higher level (see full citation in Notes to Editors).
The national winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
For a series depicting the faces of a tragedy that shocked the entire country and turned the spotlight on health service delivery, our national television feature winners are: Kyla Herrmannsen, Shamiel Albertyn, Ashley Market, Tshepo Dhlamini, Tshidiso Lechuba and Sungani Phiri of eNCA’s Checkpoint and Health-e for “Life Esidemini”.
For going off the beaten track to deliver an illuminating and engaging story that dispels the assumption that South African cricket is a white man’s sport, the national winners are: Ronald Masinda and Nceba Ntlanganiso of eNCA for “A game loved by All”.
Online journalism in South Africa proved that it had come of age in 2017, thanks to support from both mainstream media and from several independent institutions training and guiding journalists and assigning investigative projects. Data journalism is the freshest of journalistic disciplines and was well combined by our national winners with investigative techniques to uncover the potentially life-or-death delays to the prescribed removal of asbestos in schools. The national winners are: Laura Grant & Alastair Otter for “Hidden danger: asbestos in Gauteng’s schools” for Passmark and TimesLive.
As well as creatively using a wide variety of sound elements and production techniques to grab the listener’s attention, the national winner persevered for nearly two years in investigating the story of an innocent man who spent 17 years in jail. The national winners are: Paul McNally, Kutlwano Serame, John Bartmann and Freddy Mabitsela of Citizen Justice Network for SAfm for the eight-part series, Alibi.
Excellent use by several finalists of investigative journalism techniques emphasised how this category has grown in strength this year. For an outstanding and brave expose of corruption allegations threatening the region’s water supply, the national winner is: Sipho Masondo of City Press for “Watergate”.
The national winner combined to devastating effect two crucial virtues of investigative journalism – courage and the stamina to slog through reams of evidence. The entry also made maximum use of the elastic capacity to combine text, graphics, photographs and other elements in the digital space. For persevering with a story that shook the nation, the national winner is: for #GuptaLeaks the team from the Daily Maverick, AmaBhungane and News24: Branko Brkic, Pauli van Wyk, Lester Freamon, Adriaan Basson, Richard Poplak, Adi Eyal, Micah Reddy, Susan Comrie, Angelique Serrao, Stefaans Brummer, Antoinette Muller, Marianne Thamm, Sam Sole, Tabelo Timse, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Craig McKune, Lionel Faull, Rebecca Davis and Sally Evans.
The winning Radio News finalist clearly understood the radio medium, knowing how to balance narration, emotion, drama and even some striking sound effects. For an outstanding report on the dangers of WhatsApp voice notes, the national winner is: Hanri Wondergem of SABC RSG for “WhatsApp-paniek”.
In a particularly strong news year, one story largely defined the news agenda and dominated political discourse. The national winners for Print News are: for the “State capture” series, the Tiso Blackstar team of Graeme Hosken, Thanduxolo Jika, Kyle Cowan, Sikonathi Mantshantsha, Qaanitah Hunter, Sabelo Skiti, Hanna Ziady, Siphe Macanda, Genevieve Quintal and Mzilikazi wa Afrika.
The national winner for Print Feature was true to journalism’s duty as the voice of the voiceless and the poor. The judges hope that the winning depiction of the festering legacy of a single-sex women’s hostel will prick the conscience of both eThekwini Metro and the KZN provincial government to create accommodation for these mothers and children that respects human dignity. The winners are: Tania Broughton and Thuli Dlamini of The Times for “Inside apartheid’s hostel”.
More than twenty years after achieving democracy, South Africa did not expect to see what looked like pre-apartheid protest battles as young people fought for affordable tertiary education for all. For dramatic, informative and fluid coverage, the winners are: Malungelo Booi, Lirandzu Themba, Mlingane Dube and Thuthuka Zondi of eNCA for “South Africa’s fees crisis”.
A good photograph tells a story – but a great photograph also makes one feel the truth of the moment depicted. Two finalists particularly laid bare the frustrations, anger and eventual pain flowing though large sections of South Africa now. The joint national winners are: for emotive photographic reports of today’s youth revolution: Alon Skuy of The Times for “Fees must fall”. AND for a creative photographic essay showing the devastating consequences of South Africa’s scourge of domestic violence: Phandulwazi Jikelo of the Cape Times for “Blind and in despair amid hardship”.
This 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. This year’s winner is Monique Mortlock from Eyewitness News.
Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults
An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.
Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.
These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.
Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:
- The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
- The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
- The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
- The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
- The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
- The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.
The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been.
“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured. The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.
“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’.
“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves. Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).
“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”
For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.
SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees
The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.
The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.
“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”
Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler.
“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”
Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.
In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton), Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.
Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.
“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.
South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.