“We consume news everywhere: television, radio, online, and social media. We consume news about widespread corruption, diseases, war, and natural disasters happening around us, what about positive news? Positive news builds communities, increases tourism in a respective region and encourages participation in the respective communities,” said Lindokuhle Nzuza, project coordinator at Jamlab at a recent Jamlab webinar on the business of good news.
Nzuza was joined by Vickie Remoe, an entrepreneur from Sierra Leone, and director and TV host for The Vickie Remoe Show. Vickie describes the show as a cross between The Oprah Show and Anthony Bourdain’s’ Parts Unknown. Also joining Nzuza was South African broadcast journalist turned media entrepreneur Shahan Ramkissoon, co-founder of FeelSA, an online multimedia news platform specialising in good news. The organisation aims to highlight all things admirable about the nation through storytelling that inspires and elevates its citizens to the rest of the world
“There’s a huge responsibility for accountability journalism in our country which is absolutely necessary to protect our democracy but there’s also a huge gap when it comes to telling positive stories,” said Ramkissoon. “Good news is about human beings in our country who are doing good in their communities and we tell our reporters to start in their communities,” said Ramkissoon.
Ramkissoon said that their aim at FeelSA is to tell stories that will bring about change. He emphasised the importance of having a balance between good and bad news. “Yes there’s lots of bad news and it’s necessary because we have to hold our government to account but we need to also share the good things that people and companies are doing in South Africa”.
Nzuza asked both Remoe and Ramkissoon what their experiences have been with funding and approaching investors. Remoe said that it was challenging to find investors and relied on family and friends for funding. Eventually, Remoe was able to receive revenue through advertising, however, she admitted that it was not consistent. Remoe said she took a seven-year break from her show because it was not financially viable and during that time she went back to journalism school. Upon her return, she partnered with a TV station and ran a crowd-sourcing campaign titled #MakeSierraLeoneFamous, whereby she asked community members to create awareness about the show. Through the campaign, she was able to raise $15,000 in a month, which was used to invest in equipment.
“What I’ve learned about financing in a place such as Sierra Leone in a market that’s underdeveloped, you really have to bootstrap and have proof of a concept and bootstrap it on your own before people have faith that it is viable and then they’ll invest in it,” said Remoe. She said that she does not worry as much about funding as they are an established brand and can easily approach companies or sponsors.
Is reporting on good news sustainable?
Remoe said her intention with starting her show was not to tell good news but it was about representation, and it was about uplifting people in communities and finding a way to communicate with people and showing the value that these stories had or have. Remoe said that it is important to create content that works for your audience. For example, she has a podcast that is listened to by the African diaspora however people in Sierra Leone prefer radio, Remoe packages her content for different audiences in different ways. “You need to consistently think about what you are creating and how to repackage it for different platforms and then who will be interested in that audience and platform and who will be interested in financing it,” said Remoe.
“You have to keep your audience interested to get your funders to give you money,” said Ramkissoon. “Be agile and make sure that you are right there with the trends and make your product extraordinary content, which has not been easy but it is possible”.
Watch the full webinar below: