Recap: Menell Media Exchange 2015

What happens when opportunity and luck meet? You get to attend media conference right before your final year exam.

As exhausted as I was after all of it, it was completely worth the experience as a number of local and international media buffs came together to talk all about South Africa’s digital media landscape.

It was a whirlwind two-day-trip of workshops, panel talks and networking.


On our way to #MMX15. Eeep!

Me and four others from Rhodes University worked as part of the student newsroom which also included students from Vaal Triangle Campus, Wits University, University of Johannesburg and Duke University.

This gave us a chance to get fully immersed in all the action and ask questions we had about certain topics directly to veterans in the industry.

Some guests included Jeremy Maggs (Maggs on Media), Glenda Daniels (Senior Lecturer:Media Studies, Wits University), Cornelis Jacob & Amy Selwyn (Storytegic), Xolani Gwala (Radio 702) and Ivan Moroke (TBWA:South Africa) just to name a few.

*sidenote: Some of us were a tad starstruck as we got the opportunity to share this forum with all of these people.

This years theme was Journalism Next: Innovation, Brand and Sustainability which addressed the issue of the changing newsroom structure given the inclusion of digital technologies.

It asked organisations and practitioners how they are coping with these changes and making themselves relevant in accordance to our digital climate.

Panel Discussion on Innovation

Panel Discussion on Innovation at the Menell Media Exchange 2015

As South Africa’s climate largely accesses information via mobile technologies, it was imperative that organisations become aware of this and produce more mobile-friendly content.

Bridging the business and journalism sides within organisations and how this is key for surviving as a media organisation was also addressed.

A highlight for me was the keynote address by Andrew Phelps of The New York Times.

He discussed how the leaked NYT innovation report outlined that we must be innovative in both the presentation and marketing of journalism in order to stay relevant with our ever-changing audiences.

Myself and Andrew Phelps of The New York Times at a mixer after his presentation at the Menell Media Exchange 2015

Myself and Andrew Phelps of The New York Times at a mixer after his presentation at the Menell Media Exchange 2015

For a full summary of the discussion, you can read here.

Other interesting take aways from the conference was the fact that a lot of older generation journo’s seemed to be enthusiastic to embrace the digital age, but also weary of all the changes and new skills this has required everyone to adopt.

Mich Atagana did a stellar job of giving a crash course on some of the simple Google search tools and skills you can use even as a dinosaur well-seasoned journo.

Something to think about was the also whether the inclusion of social media in journalism makes it more or less reliable.

I found myself on the fence about this as I believe that this practice begins with implementing rules and regulations within organisations to report with these tools.

There is no getting away from it, so rather embrace it.

Check out some of the pictures in the gallery below for a round-up of what went down that weekend.




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