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Still room for risk in data journalism era

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The Western region winner of the online category in the Vodacom Journalist of the Year showed that risky, hard-nosed reporting can still stand out in the era of data journalism.

While data journalism has been highly commended among the Western regional winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards, the winner of the online category exhibited traditional, hard-nosed, enterprising journalism, combining text, photos and video. The work of the online winner, Caryn Dolley of News24, was often obtained at great risk to personal safety.

The Western regional awards for the 2017 edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year recognised journalists 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 205 entries from the Western region.

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher said: “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. We were extremely impressed with the standard of entries which we received in the Western Region, with some commendations for excellent work given over and above the regional winners.”

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, said: “We are delighted to announce the Western regional winners in Cape Town 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 Western region. with citations, were:

2017 Online

In the emerging age of data journalism, much of a story’s impact revolves around how it is presented online. The judges want to commend the extensive use of various digital formats by the OpenUp team to tell the human story behind the numbers in “Long commute to freedom” for Code For SA and City Press. However, the regional winner proved that there is still plenty of opportunity in the online medium for courageous reporting. Traditional, hard-nosed, enterprising journalism combined text, photos and video, often obtained at great risk to personal safety. The regional winner, who laid bare some of the inner workings of the Cape Town underworld, providing a rare insight into the characters behind the nightclub security turf wars, is: Caryn Dolley of News24 for “Underworld unmasked”.

2017 Radio News

The Western Cape had its fair share of bad news in the past year, challenging Radio News reporters to cover stories of tragedy, pain, disaster and often murder. For the high standard of reporting on the tragic death of three-year-old Courtney Pieters, the regional winner is: Kevin John Brandt of Eyewitness News.

2017 Radio Feature

 Good use of sound, great analysis, high impact and brilliant story telling on a complex and controversial subject made the regional winner in the Radio Feature category exceptional. This story was of the highest standard, taking an in-depth look at the campaign for affordable housing. The regional winner is: Rahima Essop of Cape Talk for “A place to call home”.

2017 Sport

The quality of Sports writing in South Africa is outstanding and widely varied. Very well shot and edited, the regional winners found a story from off the beaten path which highlights an important reality – that cricket in South Africa is not only a white man’s sport. For their depiction of cricket in the rural Eastern Cape, including the fervour of locals who love the sport, the regional winners: Ronald Masinda and Nceba Ntlanganiso of eNCA for “A game loved by all”.

2017 Sustainability

Entries to the CSI/Sustainability category consistently prove that the best exponents apply all the most demanding journalistic skills to this beat. The judges want to commend Jay Caboz of Forbes Africa for tenaciously following the fracking issue and raising early critiques of the viability of available shale gas in the Karoo in “The fracking future fades”. This specialist category rewards excellent in-depth reporting in any medium and the regional winner took risks to create an exciting and thought-provoking report in both a well-made video and an online feature. For outstanding portrayal of how the dilemma of shellfish poaching is a matter of survival for some, the regional winner is: Aletta Harrison, freelance for Eyewitness News, for “Turning the tide on poaching”.

2017 Print News

Talk about transformation and decolonisation of our culture, education and other spaces abounds. But black learners at Sans Souci Girls High School in Cape Town found out that sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. They were forbidden to speak their indigenous home languages and forced to tie their hair in ways that could be achieved only if that hair had been stretched. For showing why the Mother City is also part of the debate on the politics of black hair and languages and how these learners joined others around the country calling for an end to cultural imperialism, the Print News regional winner is: Lisa Isaacs of the Cape Times for “Not allowed to speak Xhosa”.

2017 Print Feature

The many good entries for the Print Feature category in the Western region included the well written, the quirky and the historical reassessment. The regional winner demonstrated how a strong feature writer can take ownership of an important news story by following it up with a series of in-depth articles. For a series on the theft of police weapons and their sale to gang members, the regional winner is: Maygene Prins of Die Burger for “Kolonel se wapens eis 1066”.

2017 Online

In the emerging age of data journalism, much of a story’s impact revolves around how it is presented online. The judges want to commend the extensive use of various digital formats by the OpenUp team to tell the human story behind the numbers in “Long commute to freedom” for Code For SA and City Press. However, the regional winner proved that there is still plenty of opportunity in the online medium for courageous reporting. Traditional, hard-nosed, enterprising journalism combined text, photos and video, often obtained at great risk to personal safety. The regional winner, who laid bare some of the inner workings of the Cape Town underworld, providing a rare insight into the characters behind the nightclub security turf wars, is: Caryn Dolley of News24 for “Underworld unmasked”.

2017 Financial/Economic

The specialist Financial and Economic category attracted a broad range of fascinating entries in this region, including 21st-century consumer advice on preventing lobola from wrecking your credit report from Kabelo Khumalo of Independent’s Personal Finance to Ann Crotty’s SASSA analysis for Financial Mail. However, the runaway winner used the online medium to expose the billions lost in tender manipulation and dodgy investment approvals, delivering a wakeup call to the economy and the nation and changing the face of South Africa’s politics. The regional winners are: for #GuptaLeaks the Daily Maverick and the AmaBhungane team of: Stefaans Brummer, Branko Brkic, Pauli van Wyk, Lester Freamon, Adriaan Basson, Richard Poplak, Adi Eyal, Micah Reddy, Susan Comrie, Angelique Serrao, Antoinette Muller, Marianne Thamm, Sam Sole, Tabelo Timse, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Craig McKune, Lionel Faull, Rebecca Davis and Sally Evans.

Photography

Photographic journalism is clearly flourishing and relevant in this region, making for robust competition. The judges would particularly like to commend a series of strikingly creative images achieved by sharing the risks of going underground with illegal miners into reopened shafts: Cindy Waxa’s for “Survival beats safety at deadly illegal mine” for the Sunday Argus. The regional winner creatively used the subject and the light to reinforce a story depicting the harsh truth that one in five women in South Africa experience domestic violence. For a series of photographs showing the devastating consequences for a woman beaten to blindness by her partner, the winner is: Phandulwazi Jikelo of the Cape Times for “Blind and in despair amid hardship”.

2017 Television News

Some stories seem to be everlasting, interest in them ebbing and flowing. Yet they can still produce honest and often horrifying results. Stories in the crime beat often follow this pattern and also demand huge commitment from journalists to get the real inside story by spending considerable time gaining a subject’s trust. For an unflinching reflection of what is happening in one of the Cape’s oldest gangs, the TV News regional winners are: Athi Mtongana and Mario Pedro of eNCA for “Gangsterism in the Western Cape”.

2017 Television Feature

 NO WINNER.

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. 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 Monique Mortlock from Eyewitness News.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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