The Journalism and Media Lab (JAMLAB), the latest edition to Wits’ Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, held its first public event, #JAMLABmeetup, to look at the opportunities and spaces in the South African media landscape where great innovations could take place.

According to Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and the driving force behind the Tshimologong-initiative, JAMLAB is one of the Precinct’s most important flagships

“One of the very essential things about Tshimologong is trying to bridge the gap within digital — between content, hardware and software. And JAMLAB really bridges all those tech and non-tech gaps,” he said.

JAMLAB is a programme of Wits Journalism and the JCSE in partnership with Ryerson University, Toronto, and Journalists for Human Rights, in Canada. Wits and Ryerson has been partnering on various programmes since 2014.

Opening the event, JAMLAB director Indra de Lanerolle said: “We are trying to build media practice and networks around innovation. It is a space where people can share new ideas in the media and journalism landscape.”

Joined by South African media innovators, Associate Professor Asmaa Malik from Ryerson School of Journalism led the discussion on where to find the ‘white spaces’ for digital media startups, and what support hubs, universities and others should be offering to grow and improve media innovation.

She highlighted some of the most innovative startups that have grown out of the Digital Media Zone — an innovation hub based at Ryerson University that is similar to Tshimologong — such as SlimCut Media, Blockthrough and Rumie.

Malik will also be working with teams at JAMLAB on developing journalism entrepreneurship.

Consistency is key

Her fellow panelist, JAMLAB Accelerator programme fellow, broadcaster and entrepreneur Andile Masuku, says it is in those “white spaces” that millennials in Africa have a unique opportunity. Masuku is the executive producer for African Tech Round-up, one of six teams to join the first JAMLAB Accelarator programme in July. Africa Tech Round-up currently produce podcasts focusing on technology, digital and innovation news and insights that matter from across the African continent.

“In Africa we are so behind the adoption curve for so many technologies and because of that there is almost immediate ‘white space’ to fill for anyone who can do something (innovative) but consistent for 100 weeks in a row. So anyone who has access to unlimited broadband internet and digital technologies, like a smartphone, is already ahead.”

But you need to be consistent in what you are doing for a 100 weeks in a row, he emphasised. “The problem with millennials is that there are not enough people who are willing to do something for 100 weeks in a row,” he says. Those who can consistently add value will thrive.

This story was first published by Wits News

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