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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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Half of SA mobile phone users avoid data activity

Research shows 87% of South Africans have cellphones, but 50% have data issues and a quarter struggle to find a place to charge them

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A Pew Research Center survey of 11 nations has found South Africans second most likely to avoid doing things on their cellphones because of fears of data charges. The 50% of users who report this fear is second only to Lebanon, where 66% avoid data use.

As ownership of mobile phones, especially smartphones, spreads rapidly across the globe, there are still notable numbers of people in emerging economies who do not own – or even use someone else’s – mobile phone, a Pew Research Center survey of 11 nations finds. However, in this department South Africa scores well, with only 13% not having phones – in line with a median of 6% of adults in the countries polled do not use mobile phones at all, and a median of 7% do not own phones but instead borrow them from others. 

These mobile divides between have and have-nots are most pronounced in Venezuela, where about a third of adults (32%) do not own or use mobile phones, India (30%) and the Philippines (27%).

At the same time, the new findings show that mobile divides also exist among those who own phones. A median of 46% in these countries say they frequently or occasionally have difficulties getting reliable phone connections, 37% say it can be a challenge to pay for their phones and 33% report finding places to charge their phones is a problem at least occasionally. In addition, a median of 42% report frequently or occasionally avoiding some activities on their phones because they use too much data. 

In some countries, mobile owners’ challenges are particularly striking. In Lebanon, for example, 77% of phone owners report having problems getting reliable mobile connections, and about two-thirds (66%) say they avoid doing things with their phones because those activities use too much data. In Jordan, nearly half (48%) report having trouble paying for their phone, while in Tunisia four-in-ten (40%) say it can be a challenge to find places to recharge their phones. 

“The spread of mobile phones brings a variety of benefits to users in emerging economies, and they can clearly spell out what appeals to them about the arrival of a phone in their lives,” says Laura Silver, senior researcher at Pew Research Center. “Still, our survey shows that these devices bring new challenges and headaches to users at the same time they open up new divisions in their societies. It turns out that digital divides take several forms in these countries.” 

Beyond those concerns, there are other issues that can disrupt life for some phone users and sharers. Around three-quarters or more of mobile phone owners in every country except India report concerns about identity theft, and around nine-in-ten or more in Mexico (95%), Colombia (94%), Tunisia (90%), South Africa (89%) and the Philippines (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about the issue. 

For mobile sharers, concerns about device security can also play a role in why people choose not to own their own devices. While cost is the primary reason mobile phone sharers give for why they do not personally have a phone (a median of 34% across eight countries reports this), the second most commonly cited reason is that a previous mobile phone was lost, broken or stolen. 

Additionally, a median of 29% of mobile owners in these 11 emerging economies report they have frequently or occasionally experienced problems finding information online in their preferred language. This problem ranges from 17% of mobile owners in Jordan to 37% in South Africa – the highest of all countries surveyed.

Other key findings from the survey include: 

Nonuse tends to be more common among adults with lower levels of income and education. In the Philippines, for instance, 10% of respondents with more education say they do not use a phone, compared with 38% of those with lower levels of education. This pattern exists in all 11 countries surveyed. Similarly, across most of the nations, older people are more likely than younger people to be non-users. 

Non-users are divided over whether they would like to own a mobile phone in the future. Venezuelan non-users stand out for their keen interest in acquiring a mobile phone; 86% of mobile phone non-users in Venezuela say they would like to get a phone in the future. Elsewhere, these numbers vary markedly, from around half or more desiring a mobile phone in South Africa (65%), Colombia (61%) and Tunisia (52%), to fewer than half in Mexico (41%), the Philippines (35%), India (31%) and Lebanon (9%). 

In some countries, issues of technological literacy are particularly pronounced. For example, around a quarter of Indians (26%) say the primary reason they share a phone is because it is too complicated to use, followed by Mexicans (11%) and Filipinos (10%). 

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MUST you buy into Black Friday? The pros and cons

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Black Friday, once only a North American marketing frenzy, has become a critical entry in the calendars of South African retail business owners.

Research published by Stats SA says that historically, the most important month of the year for retail trade is December, when many consumers are on holiday and go Christmas shopping. But December 2018 was a tough month for retail in South Africa with the volume of sales falling by 1,4% year-on-year.

The poor performance of retailers in December followed a fruitful November, when Black Friday boosted sales to 2,9% year-on-year.

Dov Girnun, CEO of Merchant Capital, an innovative fintech funder that provides working capital to retail SME’s across the country, says Black Friday presents a moment in time in the sales cycle, and business owners still need to consider whether the concept will make sense for their business’s growth.

“Small business growth is a delicate balance between doing what works and taking advantage of the right opportunities. Retail business owners should carefully weigh up the pros and cons before being swept away by the Black Friday wave,” says Girnun.

Girnun outlines the following pro’s and con’s that retailers should consider before jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon.

Shopper enthusiasm

Pro: Savvy customers look forward to a good bargain. They actually plan their year-end spending around this one retail event. They believe that they will enjoy savings and great deals which will often prompt larger spending and additional ‘treats’ for themselves.

Con: There was a time when festive season shopping mainly occurred in December. Black Friday has changed this. What was normally a very good festive season trade, can now mean rapidly reduced December turnover. Retailers need to work this new spending habit into their projections and stock flow.

Significant noise

Pro: If you can deliver agile marketing messaging and have a tactical social and email marketing campaign behind you, you may well be able to fight the clutter and up your sales in a meaningful way. 

Girnun says: “In our experience, small businesses use the funds we lend them for anything that will be additive to the growth of their business: to hire more employees; buy new equipment; refurbish their store; buy more stock – and even for marketing – they don’t necessarily have to be elaborate plans, but each funding step is crucial to the next.” 

Con: As a small business you are up against the big guys: large retailers with huge marketing campaigns behind them. Certain larger retailers will even offer loss-leaders to draw in customers.

Shed old stock for small business growth

Pro: Small business growth is often the difference between sitting with old stock or shedding your load. Black Friday is a great way to encourage take-up of old redundant inventory. Making way for the new.

Con: On this day, over any other, customers are price-sensitive. They expect a good deal otherwise will gladly shop elsewhere. Heavy discounts might be the only way to win that sale over your competitor. But this is often a discount that isn’t worth the sale.

Scaling up for traffic

Pro: Black Friday is a marketing vehicle to assist in scaling up your customer traffic. It is a unique opportunity to attract new customers and satisfy existing ones. Just make sure that your store has the capability to restock quickly and check customers out efficiently.

Con: Sub-par in-store or online service can have a negative knock-on effect on your brand. So make sure you employ more staff and security on the day and upgrade your online systems so that they can carry an abnormal load should it arise.

Realising retailers’ eleventh-hour cash needs and taking the rapid evolution of technology into account, funders like Merchant Capital have the capability of assessing and approving a loan in just 24 – 48 hours, offering retailers an opportunity to scale up if need be at lower risk.

What are your competitors doing?

Pro: If your competitors are in the space, this may mean it’s good for your vertical. Simply being there may be a good way to claim your stake in some way.

Con: If you aren’t in the game, you can almost guarantee it will be a bad sales day. But FOMO alone (Fear Of Missing Out), is a dangerous hill to climb. So think clearly and make decisions that are right for your business!

Girnun says: “The jury is out as to whether Black Friday makes sense for all small businesses. But what is very clear is that retailers need to think long and hard about capacity, strategy, bottom-line, and long-term impact before committing to partake in Black Friday.”

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