We recently caught up with Nelisa Ngqulana of the Media Factory and alum of the first JamLab Accelerator programme. Since completing the six month programme and getting funding of a half million Rand from the South African Media Innovation Progam, Ngqulana says they’ve been hard at work to bring their new agency — IndabaNet — to life.

When she joined the accelerator programme in early 2017 they had hoped to build a prototype of their virtual newsroom within six months. The platform is a space where unemployed journalists can work where they are and where mainstream media can access a diverse range of perspectives on breaking stories from first responders on the ground.

But it hasn’t been easy for the team. Most recently, they had a huge glitch with the open source technology they were intending to use for the IndabaNet platform.

“They (the developers) literally pulled out last minute. They simply just sent a message saying they’re not developing the application anymore. It’s an open source application and they are re-looking at it. They pulled it down, so no one can access the code,” said Ngqulana.

“So we have to rebuild the whole application from scratch.” And build is what they did. Media Factory will do a soft launch through their new website due to go online soon.

The writer, public relations and communications strategist says that at the moment they are on a recruitment drive for freelancers who want to join the IndabaNet platform.

“We will be putting out the stories that we have, people can meet our journalists, people can commission the journalists via the website and then we will launch the full suite around June,” says Ngqulana.

The platform currently has about 200 journalists on the database with skills ranging from writing, photography, editing, producing and packaging audio. Ngqulana says that editors can buy leads from IndabaNet or they can commission the journalists to follow up on stories. She encourages all mainstream newsroom in South Africa to subscribe to the database.

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