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Vodacom rewards KZN journalists

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This year’s Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards drew over 1 000 entries from all over the country. The KwaZulu-Natal regional awards took place on 17 October and journalists were recognised in 12 categories.

The theme for the awards this year is ‘Your Word’, and promotes the integrity of journalism across all media.

“We are delighted to announce the regional winners in KwaZulu-Natal 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,” said Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group. “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 judges faced a tough job processing entries that were of a very high standard. This year KwaZulu-Natal journalists submitted 101 entries in total.

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. KwaZulu-Natal journalists can be proud of the work they have done and we look forward to even more entries from this region next year.”

There were 12 categories:

  • CSI/Sustainability
  • Young Journalist
  • Financial/Economic
  • Online
  • Photography
  • Print Feature
  • Print News
  • Radio Feature
  • Radio News
  • Sport
  • Television Feature;
  • and Television News.

Regional winners for the KwaZulu-Natal Region were announced today at a function at the Protea Hotel Umhlanga Ridge in Durban. 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.

The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards in the KwaZulu-Natal region are:

2017 Radio News

The best radio news reporting demands the ability to identify a good story and then also to find and expose the story behind the story. These critically important skills were clearly displayed by the collection of work entered by the regional winner and including stories on albinism, muti killings, and the rape of a 10-year-old child. The winner is: Vusi Khumalo of SABC News.

2017 Radio Feature

An integral part of a good Radio Feature is innovative use of different sound elements. The regional winner used sound creatively, making the listener take note of – and become involved in – the stories. For his collection of entries, including the Jozini pupils who have to cross a crocodile-infested river every day, and the plight of a baby left disabled after being hospitalised, the award goes to: Vusi Khumalo of SABC Radio.

2017 Sport

Two Sport features in this region stood out so strongly for the judges that they declared them joint winners. One entry was solid investigative work and tenacious journalism, ultimately unearthing allegations of bribery in KwaZulu-Natal cricket. The other entry was an inspirational story of a stubborn young women who overcame massive physical challenges to achieve her swimming dreams. The joint regional winners are: Myron Naicker and Terence Stone of eNCA for the TV report “KZN cricket scandal”; AND Quintin van Jaarsveld of eHowzit for the online report, “Swimming upstream”.

2017 Sustainability

Excellent in-depth reporting is the hallmark of the specialist CSI/Sustainability category. This year’s regional winner capitalised on information supplied by a well-developed network of sources to tear holes in what we thought we knew, making corporates rethink their greening strategies and consumers question their lifestyles. For a strongly researched but succinctly and energetically narrated investigation into the unsuspected reality that almost every single one of our plastic shopping bags cannot currently be recycled, the winner is: Wendy Knowler of Tiso Blackstar for ‘Bags of lies’.

2017 Print News

Corruption continues to bedevil South African society, even affecting access to university education with attempts made to bypass the UKZN quota system used to apportion admission between Africans, “coloureds”, whites, “Indians” and others. For a print news story that revealed how Indian students who could not crack the academic threshold found that a R500 000 bribe could smuggle them in as “coloureds” and that led to the arrest of alleged masterminds, the winner is: Nabeelah Shaikh of the Sunday Tribune for ‘For sale: A place at medical school’.

2017 Print Feature

Sometimes an abnormality persists for so long that we all seem to forget the pressing need to normalise. Since 1994, segregation and apartheid should have had no place in our country but single-sex workers’ hostels are one relic that persist. Those where men were herded together for months without their spouses often became powder kegs of unrest, masking the fact that there were women’s hostels too – and still are. About 4,000 women and children are crammed into Durban’s Thokoza hostel. The space was built for fewer than half that number and no man is ever allowed inside. The print feature winners, who forcibly reminded us of the hell hole that is Thokoza, are: Tania Broughton and Thuli Dlamini of The Times for ‘Inside apartheid’s hostel’.

2017 Online

The most powerful online stories tend to become more than a digital artefact, also having an impact in the real world. The winning online story combined strong human interest and political scandal. The winner for breaking, tenaciously pursuing, and leading the media follow up of this story is: Giordano Stolley of African News Agency for ‘KZN cancer treatment meltdown brings woman to brink of death’.

2017 Financial/Economic

An in-depth investigation in the Financial and Economic field can take many guises and this category rewards excellent in-depth reporting across any medium. The winner depicted and analysed popular outrage, corporate cost-saving and environmental laissez faire in a well-balanced TV feature that investigated the wheeling and dealing around the Enviroserv landfill controversy. The winner is: Julie Laurenz of Nguni TV for SABC2’s 50/50 for “Kicking up a stink”.

Photography

It is not often that a single image illuminates the essence of an individual, but the patience and passion of this photographic journalist paid off. The resulting image captured the attention of the country with a portrait of notorious criminal Ananis Mathe, a convicted serial rapist and armed robber and serial prison escaper, in C Max Prison but still evoking the horrors that his many victims must have faced. The winner is: Thuli Dlamini of The Times for “The evil eye.”

2017 Television News

Sadly, the fact that too many learners still have to get up early and walk hours to school is not new in our country. But that does not mean that we should give up telling the story of the plight of these learners. For fresh and effective highlighting of this issue, the winner is: Buhle Khumalo of SABC Television News for ‘River’.

2017 Television Feature

An excellent television feature might need to be nurtured for weeks or even months – or a resourceful journalist could find and work sources in a few hours to plug a gap and ensure that a hungry news editor is not disappointed. For uncovering an insurance scam where policies were taken out on victims before killing them, the winners are: Dasen Thathiah and Nkanyiso Mdlalose of eNCA for the series, ‘Greytown Scam’.

Young Journalist Award

The winner in the region receives 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 a 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 KwaZulu-Natal winner is Sbongakonke Mbatha from SABC 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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