Since 2009, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has collaborated with Workers’ World Media Productions (WWMP) in South Africa on a project that focuses on democratic mass media and organisational platforms to address issues impacting workers and their communities. Activities involve mass media productions, education, training, and movement building.
Growing grassroots mass media with Elitsha
Elitsha, an online newspaper, has emerged as a beacon of grassroots journalism, fostering accessible and relevant media for working-class people in South Africa and internationally. With a commitment to a bottom-up approach, Elitsha has not only expanded its readership but has also played a crucial role in training activists and amplifying the voices of marginalised communities.
The dedication to improved marketing strategies has produced favourable outcomes, doubling its monthly average readership from 200 to an impressive 400. This growth will continue with an innovative advertising plan that includes radio and TV advertising, along with a robust social media presence. To explore the stories and reports covered by Elitsha, visit here.
Training activists in mobile journalism
The outlet has also made significant progress in empowering activists through basic journalism training, including online news and mobile journalism. A bottom-up approach has guided the selection of trainees from grassroots organisations in poor communities, ensuring a direct connection between journalism and the organising efforts of these communities.
Online mentoring has facilitated the learning experience for the 120 activists involved. The stories and reports covered have been intricately linked to the work of Local Community Media Forums (LCMFs), showcasing the impact of journalism on community organising efforts.
Workers’ TV Show: Elevating voices
The Labour show, a WWMP’s weekly TV show on Cape Town TV, has achieved remarkable success. With over 553,000 viewers and a doubling of YouTube subscribers, its influence is expanding. The collaboration of the Workers’ World TV production team and trainee producers from the Peoples’ Media Consortium has not only elevated the quality of content but also contributed to the show becoming the top-rated program on the channel.
View the top-rated show here.
Shaping the future: Peoples Media Consortium (PMC)
The Peoples Media Consortium (PMC) is part of the WWMP efforts to shape community-based alternative mass media platforms while actively seeking access to mainstream channels, community radio, and TV. With its membership now growing to 19 organisations, including progressive NGOs from various African nations, the PMC is making significant strides in reshaping media landscapes.
The PMC is now embarking on a new phase. This involves recruiting grassroots community reporters, providing them with essential training, and transforming them into mobile journalists. This network of paid community reporters will contribute to the 24-hour news channel, Channel Free. The inaugural mobile journalist course, held in November 2023, marked a crucial milestone in this endeavour.
Advocacy wins with the ‘Save Free TV’ campaign
The PMC’s leadership has been actively engaged in vital campaigns, such as the Save Free TV and Free Internet initiatives. The ‘Save Free TV’ campaign achieved a key success by preventing the Minister of Communications from prematurely advancing digital migration. This decision spared millions of households, especially those in financially challenged circumstances, from being deprived of essential broadcasts due to the lack of set-top boxes.
Building stronger communities for women and young workers
The Labor Community Media Forums (LCMFs) is a WWMP initiative focused on unemployed youth, vulnerable or informal workers, shop stewards and community activists. This project has shown resilience and growth, increasing from ten to sixteen functioning structures during the project period. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, LCMFs have adapted, acquiring new skills such as holding online meetings, utilising social media for organising, and introducing mobile journalism workshops.
A notable achievement is the increased representation of women, constituting 70% of leadership positions within LCMF structures at all levels. Campaigns initiated by LCMFs, such as access to electricity, clean water, and sanitation, exemplify their commitment to addressing pressing socio-economic concerns in their communities.
Waste picker’s fight for recognition
In its commitment to workers’ rights, WWMP supports five cooperatives of waste-pickers/recyclers in Western Cape. They have been working for recognition and are now in the process of formalising and registering their organisations with the state through an online process.
The workers are in preparation for placing demands on the City of Cape Town and negotiating with the city to have land and facilities for processing waste for recycling, access to dump sites, safety gear and health protection, and most importantly, to be recognised and absorbed into the City Council as employees.
This project is supported by Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and Australian unions.