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Herman WassermanBy Professor Herman Wasserman
Deputy Head of School and Chair of Highway Africa Steering Committee

The theme of the Highway Africa conference this year is Speaking truth to power? Media, Politics & Accountability.

Trust and credibility are at the center of the relationship between media and society. If the media loses its ability to speak to people in a language they understand, about experiences they recognise and through stories that they believe to be true, the media loses the reason for its existence.

In recent years we have seen how issues of trust and credibility have come under intense scrutiny, not only in South Africa, but internationally.

The Leveson inquiry in the UK has been a stark reminder of how the media can prey on the very public it claims to serve. The phone hacking scandal there violated the rights not only of celebrities, but of ordinary people like the murdered teenager Millie Dowler and her family. The public was outraged because the media failed to ‘comfort the afflicted’.

Here at home we have experienced increased intolerance to the media’s criticism of the powerful, and threats to establish a Media Tribunal and the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill have prompted civil society to remind us all that one of the key roles of the media is also to ‘afflict the comfortable’.

But the media can only claim the moral right to keep the powerful to account when it also turns that critical gaze upon itself. That is why in recent years the review of the South African Press Council and the work of the Press Freedom Commission, as well as that of the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team – as yet uncompleted – has been so important.

We hope that the presentations, workshops and discussions during the conference will remind us of CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour’s words: “Trust and credibility are the commodities we trade in”.

On behalf of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, and the Highway Africa Steering Committee, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Grahamstown and the 17th Highway Africa conference.

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Dr Sizwe MabizelaDr Sizwe Mabizela
Deputy Vice Chancellor,
Rhodes University

On behalf of our Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat, and the entire
Rhodes University community, I warmly welcome you all to the 17th
edition of the Rhodes University’s Highway Africa Conference.
Our University is privileged, once again, to host this important gathering
of media practitioners and scholars, journalists, and academics from across
the length and breadth of our continent and beyond. We are very proud of
the immense contribution of Highway Africa in creating a space and forum
for critical reflection and engagement on what it means to be a media
practitioner and scholar in the African continent. What started off as an adhoc
conference featuring just 65 delegates in 1996 has grown into a highly
prestigious conference and the most pre-eminent platform for journalists,
media practitioners and professionals, policy-makers and others to exchange
views and reflect on the challenges facing their profession and practice in
the African continent and beyond.
Over the years, the themes of this flagship conference of our university,
have sought to address contemporary and critical issues of the day such as
quality of journalism, the rise of citizen journalism, media and climate change
and Internet and democracy.
The 2013 theme, “Speaking truth to power? Media, politics and
accountability”, comes at an opportune time for the African continent. On
the one hand is the promising story of an Africa rising from shackles of
underdevelopment, colonialism and political subjugation and, on the other, a
persistent and depressing one of political instability and lack of transparency,
responsiveness and accountability on the part of those entrusted by their
electorate with political leadership. The story of rampant corruption, crass
materialism and self-enrichment by the political elite and the politically
connected reverberates across our continent.
Over the course of the next two days our speakers and delegates
will discuss how the media are implicated in the critical debates of how
we can build a culture of accountability in all sectors of our society. This
engagement speaks to one of the goals of Rhodes University which is
to produce graduates who are engaged, critical and democratic citizens
and ethical leaders committed to the service of humanity; graduates who
care about social justice, human right, human dignity and environmental
justice and who are prepared to be agents of social change and societal
transformation.
The remarkable longevity of our conference is in no small measure
attributable to the unswerving loyalty and support of corporate South
Africa. Telkom, Barclays Africa and MTN have traversed this long journey
with us for many years. Our sincere appreciation goes to them. We are also
grateful for the support of Minister Edna Molewa, MP, and her staff in the
Department of Environmental Affairs.
The African Editors Forum (TAEF), Southern Africa Editors Forum
(SAEF) and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), through
their association with this conference, have given it prestige and dignity. We
thank these organisations for their association with our conference and for
the significant value they add to it.
The conference programme would not be this rich without the
support of various embassies, foundations, associations, trusts, civil society
organisations and colleagues from different departments of Rhodes
University.
Finally, we wish thank all our speakers, trainers and delegates without
whom this conference would have remained in the realm of dreams and
wishful imagination.
We wish you all fruitful and enriching deliberations at the 2013
Highway Africa Conference.

Q.    Presently employed as?

A. CEO Zoopy Pty Ltd

Q.    Explain the nature of your business or your role within New Media  and print in your case?

A. Zoopy is a mobile video entertainment platform that delivers bite-sized videos of the latest news, sports and entertainment created especially for mobile, so your phone will love it! Zoopy delivers The World In 90 Seconds to hundreds of thousands of users a month, many of whom don’t have access to computers or televisions for that matter.
oopy is a mobile video tabloid, delivering The World in 90 Seconds across news, sports and entertainment.

Q.    Location of your business or company?  

A. Our head office is in Cape town and we have a regional content office in Johannesburg as well.

Q.    Links to your website/s?

A. Visit our mobi site (or website if you prefer) at http://www.zoopy.com. And look for the links on our site to download our iPhone, Blackberry and Android apps.

Q.    How do you see new media playing itself out in the future, what will be your contribution to the industry looking towards the future now?

A. In a sense, new media is not so new anymore. There will always be something extra, something different, something that provides a new spin on something old. But  multimedia and sharing are now part and parcel of our lives. Just about any site doing business on the web or mobile needs to be thinking of how to provide the tools and opportunities to bring their community together through sharing and collaboration – and photos and videos are an integral part of the process. As far as Zoopy’s contribution goes, we’re bringing quality video entertainment, produced at a professional level, to the mobile medium which has largely presented users with one of two options: (1) really poor quality content; or (2) more recently, TV episodes. What we create is made for mobile from the start. Short, sharp and interesting. As far as my personal contribution, I’ll always be involved in the online and mobile industries, wherever the journey make take us all 🙂

Q.    To new comers how should they structure their time with new media namely blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. For people whose industry does not involve any form of media,  how do they manage their time and not become overwhelmed?

A. This is an interesting question, because many people are starting to suffer from what’s being called ‘social media fatigue. Google Plus has just popped up too, making the social media and networking space a very saturated one, and one that can sap both energy and time. The best advice would be to use the platforms for different things rather than trying to duplicate your efforts. Perhaps use Facebook for close family and friends, Twitter for the world at large (and as a news feed) and YouTube so that you link to your videos within Facebook and Twitter.

Q.    New Media is being used by children as young as five, that said,  it is clear if  you do not keep abreast with trends in new media you inclined to feel isolated from main stream living, what advice do you have for people who have lagged behind and would like to know where to begin?

A. The easiest way of keeping in touch with the latest general trends in this space would be to read daily updates at sites like Mashable.com and TechCrunch.com. But it’s also a good idea to sign up to Twitter and start following people in the industries you’re interested in.

Q. Presently employed as?

A. I am a freelance journalist, work for Reuters TV, German Radio Deutsche Welle, and Pan African news agency APANEWS.NET and others I also teach web journalism and multimedia in journalism school in Togo

 Q. Explain the nature of your business or your role within New Media ?

A. I am a multimedia journalist and I use internet and new media in my job

 Q. Location of your business or company?

A. Reuters TV (Nairobi office), Deutsche Welle (Bonn, Germany) APANEWS (Dakar Senegal)

Q. Links to your website/s?
A.  www.reuters.com, http://www.dw-world.de/french www.apanews.net

Q. How do you see new media playing itself out in the future, what will be your contribution to the industry?

A. New media will have a good future . My contribution will be to train people to use new media. I have started and I organize regular training at the in University of Lome, about the use of new media

Q. To new comers how should they structure their time with new media namely blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. For people whose industry does not involve any form of media, how do they manage their time and not become overwhelmed?

A. They can try to have a good planning per day or week .

Q. New Media is being used by children as young as five, that said, it is clear if you do not keep abreast with trends in new media you inclined to feel isolated from main stream living, what advice do you have for people who have lagged behind and would like to know where to begin?

A. For Children, adult must tell them to pay attention about a risk of bad using of social media. For just discover new media, they can start having account on Facebook, Twitter and it they have time they can open a blog.

Q. Presently employed as?
• Self-employed, CEO of More Than Media.

Q. Explain the nature of your business or your role within New Media?
A. More Than Media is a boutique digital design, development, and strategy consultancy.

Q. Location of your business or company?
A• We are based in Johannesburg but operate internationally.

Q. Links to your website/s?
A. Company website: http://www.morethanmedia.co.za
• Personal website: http://www.colindaniels.co.za

Q. How do you see new media playing itself out in the future, what will be your contribution to the industry?
A.  New media will continue to evolve and extend its reach through different channels. What was once classified as “new media” only 5 years ago, such as blogging and podcasting for example, is now very much part of mainstream media. Social media is the new media of today and already Facebook and Twitter are considered mainstream. I believe that instead of focusing on the future of new media we should be focusing on accessibility and coming up with innovative ways of getting technology into the hands of the disenfranchised, especially in Africa where this is a major constraint. We saw how effectively social media was used by the public during the recent turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia but this was made possible by the high penetration of mobile devices and advanced infrastructure. The focus should be on finding solutions to enable people in poorer nations like Somalia and Sudan to do the same.

Q. To new comers how should they structure their time with new media namely blogging, twitter, Facebook, You Tube etc. For people whose industry does not involve any form of media, how do they manage their time and not become overwhelmed?
A.  There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and it’s a matter of personal preference. In my experience there are many different uses for new media (e.g. business, personal etc.) and you should never feel pressurised into spending a certain amount of time online. If you’re a new comer, experiment with one social media account and see how it goes.

Q. New Media is being used by children as young as five, that said, it is clear if you do not keep abreast with trends in new media you inclined to feel isolated from main stream living, what advice do you have for people who have lagged behind and would like to know where to begin?
A. It’s never too late to learn! My 70 year old grandmother is very active on Facebook and she had previously never used a computer before. A great introduction to new media is through a mobile phone since it’s something that most people already feel comfortable with and the majority of handsets have built-in cameras and support social media applications.