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.
Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon
On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.
Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.
“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.
Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion. In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.
A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.
David Noton advises:
- Download the right apps to be in-the-know
The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky. Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.
- Invest in a lens with optimal zoom
On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.
- Use a tripod to capture the intimate details
As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.
- Integrate the moon into your landscape
Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.
- Master the shutter speed for your subject
The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability. By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.
On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!
How Africa can embrace AI
Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.
To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.
These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.
Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed
AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.
According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.
It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.
Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.
It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.
Combining STEM with the arts
Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.
As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.
For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.
“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.
Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.
Revisiting laws and regulation
For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.
Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.
Preparing for the future
With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.
To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.
It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.