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#Guptaleaks takes Vodacom Journalist of the Year award

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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:

TV FEATURE

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”.

SPORT

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

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.

RADIO FEATURE

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.

CSI/SUSTAINABILITY

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”.

FINANCIAL/ECONOMIC

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.

RADIO NEWS

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”.

PRINT NEWS

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.

PRINT FEATURE

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”.

TV NEWS

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”.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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”.

YOUNG JOURNALIST

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.

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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