A South African First: A Media Team Operating from Rural Mpumalanga

According to Google, there are 152 million blogs in the world. They have become so easy to set up that 178,000 new ones are added to the blogosphere every day. And how is this for a stat –more than one billion photos are uploaded every day.

How many new blogs are created in rural Hazyview every day? And how many new photos are uploaded? Not nearly enough, not because there aren’t incredible stories to be told (trust me, there are), but because young adults don’t have the digital know-how, or the equipment.

In September 2014, in a bid to get the words and photos of young bloggers from rural Hazyview onto the Web, we began the Good Work Foundation Media Academy. Supporting the existing Information Technology and Hospitality Academies, the course focused on English literature, writing, poetry, digital photography, blogging and social media, and the mission was to create skills that allowed young people to creatively share their stories, whether that was a personal story or a business story.

We started with a DSLR camera, kindly donated by our fearless leader, Kate, some chocolate (always important) and 12 creative minds.

Here are some of the successes that the Media Academy has achieved over the last 10 months:

  • The ten original Media Academy students each have their own blog, built and maintained on WordPress
  • The most viewed blog has been that of Selby Mokoena, who is a facilitator at the Open Learning Academy during the day, and poet by night (read Selby’s latest blog post here)
  • 35 blog posts on the GWF website have been written or co-written by members of the Media Academy
  • More than ten articles written by Media Academy students have been published on external websites (Here is the most recent)
  • Every month this year, an article created at the Media Academy has been published in the local newspaper, The Hazyview Herald
  • The Media Academy has been approached by independent organisations looking to outsource both digital content and social media
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Media Academy team member and GWF Blogger, Accolade Ubisi, under the Digital Tree of Knowledge with articles that she has had published in local newspaper, the Hazyview Herald.

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Njabulo Mashele was the photographer at our last graduation ceremony.

At the end of July, a new group of 12 students will begin their Media internship and – via the GWF blog – we (meaning the team) will share our progress, our stories, our photos and our lives.

If you would like to get involved, here’s how:

  • Present a guest lecture: if media is your game, then beam into Hazyview and present a lecture on a topic of your choice
  • Donate your old Apple equipment: We are looking for a second-hand iPhone (for Instagram) as well as a second-hand Macbook or iMac loaded with Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Keep us in mind for when you need some of your own media outsourced – we could just be the right team to create strategic digital content for you, or manage your social media pages

Email Ryan James: ryan@goodworkfoundation.org.

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The GWF Media Academy team: You don’t have to be an urban city-slicker to be passionate about media. You just need an internet connection and an open mind.

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