A 14-year-old learner from Mkhubiso, at the foot of the Amathole mountains in the Eastern Cape, is the first citizen journalist to be officially approved as part of Food For Mzansi’s project with the Google News Initiative.
The publication now invites learners in grades 8 to 11, unemployed youth, agricultural workers and community members to apply for the remaining 49 spots on our Sinelizwi citizen journalism project.
Qhayiya Mahlahlo from the Ntlanzi Christian School says he is delighted by the good news. In March this year, he was among a group of villagers trained by Food For Mzansi in the basic principles of news, journalism and mobile video journalism. He has already written three articles for the publication, which will be published in due course.
“I am so happy for the Food For Mzansi workshop, I can help my village now by telling its stories with what I have learned here today,” says the budding citizen journalist who hopes to one day also become a professional journalist.
Food For Mzansi editor Dawn Noemdoe says South Africans with an appetite for news and a desire to share stories from their communities can now apply to join Sinelizwi (a Xhosa-language word meaning “we have a voice”).
The programme was initially set up to empower especially small-scale farmers and farm workers in three provinces, but due to covid-19 restrictions has now been opened for participants nationwide.
Noemdoe says, “We are opening this exciting citizen journalist training opportunity to a broader audience as it is moving online. Now we can reach a wider and more diverse participant group across Mzansi. Using WhatsApp and other online training tools we will run the six-month programme and reach especially those from largely overlooked rural communities.“
“Mainstream media may not see you there, off the edge of the media distribution routes, but that does not mean you don’t matter.” – Kobus Louwrens
Individuals will be empowered to find and tell local stories which will be published by Food For Mzansi, says its co-founder Ivor Price. “A key focus of our Sinelizwi project is exciting young readers to not only contribute to news, but to also become active consumers of news. We’ve put in loads of behind-the-scenes work to make this dream a reality for unemployed youth, including farm workers who are often forgotten. Our partnership with the Google News Initiative makes this possible.”
Food For Mzansi co-founder Kobus Louwrens adds, “Your life, your community and your stories are no less valuable because you live in a remote, rural area. Mainstream media may not see you there, off the edge of the media distribution routes, but that does not mean you don’t matter.”
How to become a Sinelizwi citizen journalist:
- Step 1: Click here to access the simple application form. It’s easy to complete, but take a few minutes to carefully think about your answers. Remember that you will be competing with potential citizen journalists from across Mzansi. Think about what makes you different? Why should we simply choose you as one of our 50 Sinelizwi citizen journalists? Don’t be intimidated by questions about your highest qualification. We will pick the best candidates, even if they have not completed matric.
- Step 2: Be sure to complete and submit the application form by Saturday, 8 August 2020 at 12:00. No late applications will be accepted.
- Step 3: Check in daily to Food For Mzansi’s website for the announcement of the 50 citizen journalists who made the cut. Also make sure that you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.