South African civil society organisations, particularly those concerned with issues of poverty, inequality and socio-economic justice, should be paying attention to SACSIS – the South African Civil Society Information Service.
SACSIS describes itself as a progressive news agency, with the aim of introducing the discourse of inequality into the mainstream media — looking at issues from a left of centre point of view. According to SACSIS executive director, Fazila Farouk, they have been fairly successful in getting their opinion pieces into South African newspapers. She says about 25% of their articles get picked up, and these are invariably used on newspapers’ leader (opinion) pages. The Cape Argus as well as The Times pick up their copy quite a lot, Farouk says.
SACSIS has regular columnists, but is also interested in taking occasional unsolicited pieces. Be aware though, that its main focus is policy dialogue around how to make democracy work for the poor, so they have a fairly limited number of news categories they focus on, such as human rights, democracy and governmance, economic justice, land and housing, rural and urban development, public services, and the environment. They also look at media and technology and the impact of these on the poor – so they occasionally produce media critiques. Any article that’s published on the website is automatically released to their list of media contacts.
All of their articles are released under a creative commons licence — so they are free for the media to use – and adapt if they like. But, says Farouk, the media tend to simply use the articles as they are.
If you are interested in contacting them to discuss submitting opinion material, you can email Fazila Farouk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cell phone film
The other day a colleague sent me a link to this fantastic documentary film with a social message, made entirely on a cell phone. It won its producer an award, and international attention, and is an inspiring example of what can be done with minimal resources. You can view it here
Introduction to social media for NGOs
Sangonet and the Africa Commons Project http://www.africacommons.org are presenting a one-day workshop, Introduction to Social Media for NGOs, on the 9th of April. the cost is R750.00. For anyone who is interested in learning how to use social media in your advocacy and outreach, this workshop should be a great starting point. You can find more details here.