Innovations shine at African Digital Media Awards 2019

The big hitters at this year’s WAN-IFRA African Digital Media Awards set themselves apart from the rest through a bold, innovative and creative approaches. They managed this feat at an interesting time in the media industry: The search for sustainable revenue streams has never been more frantic, audiences are less trusting and harder to please and the public’s demands for facts grow louder by the day.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | September 13, 2019

By Tebogo Gantsa, frayintermedia

The awards, which took place on the first day of the two-day Digital Media Africa conference hosted by WAN-IFRA, recognise the courage it takes for news and content producers to take a step into the future and risk novel new approaches to the age-old art of storytelling.

“These awards show the potential for digital news to be not only engaging and innovative, but also financially sustainable,” said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA.

Winners include startups, traditional publishers

Among this year’s winners are startups who threw caution to the wind, taking ownership of spaces long dominated by established players with tried-and-tested traditional models.

“We’re really excited to see the success of African news startups like Daily Maverick and Food for Mzansi, alongside impressive projects from bigger players like the BBC and Media24,” Peyrègne said.

The judges applauded the winners for compelling, eye-opening, and in-depth projects in all eight categories.

The winners are automatically entered into the World Digital Media Awards competition, to be announced in Spain during the World News Media Congress in June 2020.

And the winners are …

Best Digital News Start-up

Food for Mzansi

Farmers for Change brings heart-warming reality to the journey our food takes, from seeds in the soil to delicacies in the finest restaurants. They tell the story of farm and factory workers, land investors, scientists and marketers. It’s their hands that protect your food from drought, disease and pests.  

Best Digital Project to Engage Younger and / or Millennial Audiences

M&G 200 Young South Africans

This is a list of 200 young South Africans whose brilliance has seen them rise to the occasion in the face of global challenges. These are the next captains of industry and thought leaders in the arts, science, commerce. It’s more than just another list – M&G has cracked this world open by creatively engaging youth audiences.

Best Native Advertising / Branded Content Campaign The Anthem Project

More than 140 videos were submitted for The Anthem Project. These came from people from all walks of life who had the most exciting ideas on how a people can be united through song. The top three videos received more than 3.5 million votes. This campaign had many spin-offs – Ndlovu Youth Choir, one of the finalists, is a top contender in this year’s America’s Got Talent finals. “The value added to users via excellence in content marketing across multiple platforms” was what set this winner apart, said our judges.

Best News Website or Mobile Service

Daily Maverick

Judges agreed that Daily Maverick was ahead of the innovation pack. This year they’ve dished out a staple of excellent content, letting audiences navigate the age-old labyrinth where the good and the bad in politics, business and industry meet – with ease. They used multimedia to tell the story better than before and let their audience immerse themselves in the content, the characters and the money trail. In this category, our judges said the finalists had to demonstrate combined excellence in content and user experience, as well as value to readers and advertisers. Daily Maverick succeeded in both.

Best Use of Online Video (including VR)

Media24: Buried Truth: Unearthing the story of murdered farmworker Adam Pieterse
With “Buried Truth,” News24 resurrected the life of murdered farmworker, Adam “Mannetjies Dukvreet” Pieterse, whose fate would have remained hidden beneath the wild flowers of the Namaqualand. This heart-rending documentary is a window into the often weary life of farm workers, their struggles and their painstaking search for justice. Our judges said the winner in this category had to consider the appropriate video format for each platform, as well as technical quality and the emotional and aesthetic impact of the video.

Best in Social Media Engagement

BBC Media Action: BBC Media Action Arewa Facebook Page

The BBC Action Arewa Facebook page hits hard with a rich and original taste of the life of Nigerians – with a fun mix of the serious, the perplexing and the most hilarious. It gets the Hausa-speaking audience engaged while still keeping the essence of the BBC World Service brand.

Best Data Visualisation

Code for Africa: Dominion

Code for Africa’s Dominion is a useful data visualisation portal that aggregates land data for journalists, researchers and policymakers. It adds data and context to enrich the often heated debate on land use and ownership by putting facts at the centre of the conversation. In this category, our judges said they looked for special attention paid to creativity and visual impact, as well as consideration for mobile audiences, and that the Dominion project stood out above all entries.

Best Paid Content Strategy

Maverick Insider

With traditional revenue streams drying up, Maverick Insider’s paid content initiative is a unique example. It gives us an idea of how news brands can thrive by making readers realise how important their contribution to keeping good journalism sustainable and accessible is. Here, the judges said, the finalists had to demonstrate “an understanding of brand strengths, clarity for the audience, and an effective call to action,” and that Maverick Insider excelled at all of this.


WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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