JAMLAB is a six-month hothouse accelerator programme for journalism and media innovators. It will provide teams with the tools, facilities, contacts, and support necessary to realise their ideas and ambitions.

Applications for the incubator are now open.

Take a listen to the interview below regarding the accelerator programme in 2017.

The 2017 programme will run at the new Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg from July until December.

Up to six teams will receive:

  • A six month fellowship at Wits Journalism
  • Free workspace at the new Tshimologong Precinct co-working space
  • Mentorship and coaching from experienced media, start-up and tech experts and entrepreneurs
  • Free places on a three-month “Creating the Media” certificate course at Wits
  • Access to a software development team at Tshimologong
  • Opportunities to pitch to potential investors and funders

How do you apply?

Complete this short application form to capture your details and confirm your eligibility and ability to participate.

You will be asked to write a short pitch setting out your idea for a new journalism start-up or describing your existing venture and your ideas for growing and developing it further. Include in this pitch why and how your venture is innovating in the space.

You will also be asked to provide short resumes of your key team, including a line on each one’s role in the venture.

Deadline for Applications

A workshop for applicants will be held on 5th June 2017 at 16:00 (South African Time), at Tshimologong, 41 Juta Street, Braamfontein.

The deadline for applications is 17:00 (South African Time), Friday, 9 June, 2017.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch on 19th June.


Who should apply?

Innovators with a great idea and the commitment to create and sustain a new journalism or media venture.

Innovators who lead an existing journalism or media venture that they want to grow and develop. We see an exciting new ‘alternative media’ developing in Johannesburg and in South Africa and are keen to support and help grow it.

Starting or growing a new venture is challenging work so we encourage people to apply as a team of at least two people who are able to commit all or a substantial majority of their time to their project. Larger teams are also welcomed.

The programme is based on a significant amount of face-to-face interaction so applicants must be able to be Johannesburg-based for the period of the Fellowship.

We will be seeking to ensure that JAMLAB addresses historic inequalities of opportunities in South Africa and that those who are selected are a diverse group of people who understand and want to engage the widest range of South African audiences.

We are especially keen to see women and women led teams apply.

What counts as ‘journalism and media’?

Your idea or venture could be about making data or knowledge more useful and accessible, it could be about enabling debate and comment. What we now think of as journalism and journalism media was formed a long time ago in the age of print. The journalism of the future will need to look different and work differently. We are not able to support initiatives focused solely on entertainment, but we want to be surprised by new ideas we haven’t seen or thought of before.

What counts as innovation?

We are looking for proposals capable of disrupting the existing media landscape or of reaching communities not being adequately served by existing journalism and media, or even of transforming how journalism and media is and has been practiced. So we are looking for new ideas that are capable of leading to change in the how, what and who of journalism and media today. Your innovation may rely on using new technologies or even on developing them but it doesn’t have to.

Do I need to be an entrepreneur to apply?

Your project can be for-profit or not-for-profit. Whether you are an entrepreneur who needs a market to sustain a journalism business or a social entrepreneur who envisages donations supporting their venture, you will need to develop a strong idea of how you are going to reach the people who will use your product or service, why they will want to use it, who will pay for it and who will invest in it. You will also need to committed to the highest standards of media ethics.

Can I apply if I am a full-time student?

No, but part-time students are welcome to apply.

Can I apply if I have already received funding from another organisation?

Yes, you can.

Do you accept applications from outside South Africa?

Not at this stage. We are also a start-up and we do not have the capacity at this stage to support people coming from other countries. Based on our experience of this initial programme we hope to create opportunities for people from other African countries in the near future.

I have a great idea and the commitment to do this but I can’t support myself for six months while I work on developing it on the Fellowship. Can you help?

We have some limited funds for small bursaries so please apply.

Who is organising the programme?

The JAMLAB accelerator is being run by Wits Journalism with the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering in partnership with Ryerson University, Toronto and Journalists for Human Rights. JAMLAB’s Director is Indra de Lanerolle, a former BBC journalist, film and television producer, and internet and media researcher at Wits Journalism. Advisors include Mthatha Tsedu, former editor of City Press and Sunday Times and now Deputy Chair of the Interim Board at SABC; Lisa MacLoed, Head of Digital at Times Media Group and formerly at the Financial Times, London and Khadija Patel Editor in Chief, Mail and Guardian.


Where do I get more information?

Follow us: @jamlabafrica on Twitter and Facebook
Email: jamlab@journalism.co.za

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