Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Government media course a great knowledge-sharing platform

By Vuyokazi Burwana

GRAHAMSTOWN -- Journalists and senior communicators from different municipalities in South Africa spent last week learning the ropes of doing their work in a rapidly changing media landscape, and most said afterwards that the course run by the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership was a great platform for sharing knowledge and tips to improve their work.

One of the course participants, Tumelo Taunyane, a Deputy Director for Media Liaison in the Gauteng Department of Sports, Culture and Recreation, said the course – officially known as ‘Government Media: Essential Tools for Editors and Journalists” – had helped him understand media relations issues and how to implement concrete and workable ideas.

“One would have ideas and they would remain ideas so this (course) has given me the platform to be confident and to develop strategies to implement those ideas,” he told this reporter.

The participants said the training accorded them an opportunity to share their experiences and to broaden their view of government communication and the changing media industry, where an increasing number of people in South Africa is accessing news content through digital and social media platforms compared to traditional newspapers, radio and television.

“I find the course to be very relevant to what I’m doing, and a lot is changing in the media so this has helped me to enhance my knowledge and confidence,” said another attendee, Sabelo Ncwane, Coordinator for Communication at the Greater Kokstad municipality.

The engagement of participants through presentations brought about what Ncwane described as “thought-provoking, vibrant conversations which provoke debates that can also be applied in workplaces to bring about change”.

The participants also praised the course for giving them a platform to network. They recognised the need for media communicators to engage with each other. Ncwane even exclaimed that “although I and my colleagues on the course met only three days ago, we now know each other like we met three years ago!” He spoke on Wednesday last week, the third day of the five-day course, which is fully accredited and certificated by Rhodes University.

Rendani Khashane, an Assistant Director at the Department of Defence, shared the sentiments of most of the other participants. She opted to liken her learning experience to the analogy of a car: “If people do not upgrade their skills-set, then they will no longer be effective, just like in a car that needs to be serviced and replenished regularly to work properly.”

Ncwane and Khashane’s parting words stemmed from their belief that every government communicator needed this course because “communication is a passion, a calling and an art of leadership”, to quote Ncwane.


The Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership at Rhodes University in South Africa, in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), invites applications for six postgraduate scholarships from Southern African women media leaders who wish to study media management at the SPI in 2015.

Applicants should be from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Successful applicants will register for the SPI’s intensive, one-year-long fulltime Postgraduate Diploma in Media Management (PDMM), the only formal media management qualification in Africa and the developing world. Candidates must already possess an undergraduate degree from a recognised university in order to pursue postgraduate study. The OSISA scholarships cover:

• The full cost of tuition • Accommodation and meals in one of Rhodes University’s postgraduate residences • Course materials and books • A monthly subsistence allowance • Medical aid • Mid-year media management internship costs.

Employers of the successful scholarship applicants or the scholarship winners themselves will need to cover their travel costs to and from Rhodes University, including during the University’s holidays, to encourage greater ownership and appreciation of the scholarship programme by the beneficiaries and their media companies.

The PDMM is a one-year, fulltime programme designed to provide people who work or aspire to work in the media industry with critical skills and knowledge they need to perform more effectively and strategically in their organizations and to fast-track their careers to management positions.

The PDMM is equivalent to an honours degree -- it is pegged at Level 8 on the National Qualifications Framework set by South Africa’s qualifications-setting agency SAQA -- and combines rigorous theoretical and practical grounding, a mid-year management internship and a comprehensive academic portfolio at the end of the year.

The PDMM is composed of eight compulsory modules covering media economics and financial management; media markets, audiences and advertising; managing media content; managing circulation and distribution; media management and leadership; media management contexts, policy and institutions; new media and convergence; and human resources management.

Application details and procedures: Only women candidates who are already working in the media industry in the 10 Southern African countries of OSISA listed above are eligible to apply for these scholarships. Candidates should already have an undergraduate degree in any discipline from a recognised university. The application deadline for these scholarships is 7 November 2014.

Students wishing to apply for these scholarships need to:

• Complete the Rhodes University’s standard Honours Application form (available at www.ru.ac.za/applying/ under the section ‘Postgraduate Studies’ which must be submitted directly to the Registrar’s Division at Rhodes University and a copy emailed to Linda Snam (l.snam@ru.ac.za) or to Sibonise Mbengashe at S.Mbengashe@ru.ac.za at the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI). • Submit a detailed Curriculum Vitae, including contact details. This is sent to the SPI only. • Submit certified academic transcripts of ALL tertiary qualifications (these are sent to both the SPI and Registrar’s Division at Rhodes University); and • Submit to the SPI (through Linda Snam at L.snam@ru.ac.za or through Sibonise Mbengashe at S.Mbengashe@ru.ac.za) a 1,000-word letter of motivation, which explains why the student is interested in doing the PDMM, how the PDMM will assist the student’s career and why the student believes she/he qualifies for the OSISA scholarship.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted after the applications close at 12 mid-day (Southern African time) on 7 November 2014.

OSISA is an African institution committed to the creation of open societies through support for democracy, human rights and good governance and it works in Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The SPI is a pioneering institute of Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies. It educates and trains high-level media managers and leaders for Africa through delivering a unique and innovative honours degree-level formal qualification in media management, the PDMM, and a range of professional business and editorial courses that are fully certificated and accredited for practising media leaders from across the continent.