The Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a New York City-based nonprofit investment fund that provides debt and equity financing to independent media businesses, has announced the launch of a three-year, $4 million media program aimed at accelerating digital media innovation in South Africa and encouraging new entrants to the field.
To be managed by MDIF, the South Africa Media Innovation Program will provide dedicated funding and capacity-building assistance to independent media organizations focused on digital innovation. Initiated by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, with funding from Omidyar Network, SAMIP will work to promote innovation in the sector; fund the development of public interest digital publications, with a focus on young audiences; and foster new and diverse voices.
To that end, SAMIP has launched its first Innovation Challenge, which is designed to identify projects and organizations in South Africa that are building news and information products that engage and inform underserved communities. In this first challenge, successful entrants will receive a cash prize of up to ZAR 500,000 (approximately $38,000), strategic advice, and mentoring from a digital media expert to help them develop a viable business around their product or platform. The deadline for entries is October 31, 2017.
"Accurate reporting, nonpartisan coverage, and information are the lifeblood of any democracy, and particularly in South Africa, given its apartheid past," said Fatima Hassan, executive director of OSF-SA. "The space to report clearly and credibly outside the framework of vested political and commercial interests has narrowed sharply in recent years while transformation remains limited, and there is a strong need to provide support to journalists of color, especially strengthening the inclusion of women reporters and editors as we make the digital leap."