Apply now for the 2019 JamLab accelerator programme

A home for the new generation of media makers

The JamLab teams from the 2017/18 accelerator programme. Picture: Tshepo Tshabalala

Are you working on something that you think could reshape media or journalism in South Africa? Do you have skills you could apply to creating great new media? Do you have the energy and commitment to create something great?

We are looking for committed and creative journalists and media makers who are passionate about fixing what isn’t working in South African media, who want to create new media to serve new audiences, or bring new conversations or ideas to the public.

JamLab is Africa’s first journalism and media accelerator and innovation lab. Our six-month hothouse accelerator programme for journalism and media innovators offers a unique opportunity to fast-track your initiative. It will provide you with the tools, facilities, contacts, and support necessary to realise your ideas and ambitions.

Applications for the incubator are now open.

The 2019 programme will run at the new Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg from January until June.

Selected teams will receive:

  • Free workspace and membership at the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct co-working space in Braamfontein
  • Mentorship and coaching from experienced media, start-up and tech experts and entrepreneurs
  • Intensive “Creating the Media” certificate course on media entrepreneurship at Wits
  • Access to software development experts
  • Opportunities to meet and pitch to potential investors and funders
  • A six-month fellowship at Wits Journalism (including access to library and university services)

Six teams took part in our first programme and three of them succeeded in securing additional investment.

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

We are holding skype group calls calls on Monday 12th and Wednesday 14th for people who have questions about the programme or the application process. You can join the Skype group call on Monday at 2pm by clicking on this link https://join.skype.com/glaiqaGN5ft0

You can join the Skype group call on Wednesday at 9am by clicking on this link https://join.skype.com/hoiuaAEuzkBk

The deadline for applications is 17:00 (South African Time), Thursday, 15 November 2018.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch on 27 November 2018.

FAQs

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 Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct 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.

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Where do I get more information?

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