Readers of this blog will be aware that we have made a number of grants to South African organisations in recent months as part of a push to increase our work there in the transparency and accountability space. An independent, trusted media landscape is an integral part of that work, but ensuring representative coverage of such a huge and diverse country can be a real challenge for most media houses based in the major cities. That’s why we have awarded a grant of £10,000 to Ground Source (GS), a mobile engagement and data collection platform that enables journalists, community organisations, researchers and others to gather and share information via even the simplest mobile phones. The platform makes it easy for individuals, activists and organisations to share information about their issues, and also create surveys that can then be sent to respondents’ phones via SMS, voice or mobile web. Our funding will be used to enable GS to test and develop their platform in the newsroom at GroundUp (GU), a developmental news agency in Cape Town that focuses on service delivery and social justice issues.
GS is already in beta testing with active pilots around the world. This latest piece of work will enable GS to test the system in a real-life, South African newsroom and, if successful, will help journalists generate better and more representative media content. During this initial phase, GS have committed to sift through incoming reports and provide the best and most promising leads to the journalists at GroundUp. They also plan to develop some basic manuals and protocols on using GS in newsrooms. We are excited to be supporting this work and hope that it can be rolled out to other newsrooms and media organisations to help them produce content for and about the whole of South Africa, rather than just the major cities.