AFRICAN DIGITAL MEDIA RESEARCH METHODS SYMPOSIUM

SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND MEDIA STUDIES , RHODES UNIVERSITY

5-7 JUNE 2019

 

Welcome to the first African Digital Media Research Methods Symposium, hosted by the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), South Africa, from 5-7 June 2019. Thank you for adding your voice to this very important conversation, and for being willing to share your experience and skills to contribute to cutting-edge digital media research methods for the African context.  We are excited to present to you a rich and diverse programme of speakers and workshops from not the African continent, but also from global leaders in the field from all over the world. Participants will meet for the three days to apply their minds to various methodological debates related to the study of digital media. We will also be sharing practical skills in a number of hands-on workshops.  Then there are also socials, an art exhibition and cocktail party so we can socialise in true African style while building networks that will take us forward into the 4th Industrial Revolution.  We will end the symposium with a planning session to turn our visions of future research collaboration and publications into solid plans. As we say in isiXhosa, Wamkelekile!

PROGRAMME OUTLINE

WEDNESDAY 5 JUNE 2019

16h00-16h45 Registration JMS foyer
17h00-17h10 Welcome: Rhodes University DVC Research and Development Dr Peter Clayton and School of Journalism and Media Studies Head of Department Prof. Larry Strelitz Room 202
17h10 – 18h10 Keynote: Prof. Jean Burgess – From ‘big data’ to hybrid digital methods: Digital media and communication research in the post-API era

Keynote outline

From ‘big data’ to hybrid digital methods: Digital media and communication research in the post-API era In this age of ‘deep mediatization’ (Couldry and Hepp, 2017), a handful of proprietary digital media platforms owned by massive technology companies play a central role in shaping and contesting society and culture. Over the past decade, researchers from a range of HASS disciplines have developed new computational and hybrid digital methods to map and interrogate these developments. Much digital methods work relied on gaining access to data through platform APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). These tools were generally created by proprietary platforms as part of the mid-2000s Web 2.0 paradigm and its associated ethos of open innovation. But the innovation ecosystem is rapidly evaporating and API access is progressively being shut down, in the wake of a series of scandals around platform privacy, extremism and hate speech. Meanwhile, publics are increasingly communicating via visual, ephemeral, and private forms and platforms; at global, local, and intimate scales. In this talk, I map out some of the possible futures of digital methods in this environment, including new hybrid approaches to platform analysis and computational critique; and secondly, by suggesting some of the parameters for research ethics, which will require institutional coordination and support.  
 
Room 202
18h15 – 20h00

Opening drinks and light supper

 

JMS foyer

THURSDAY 6 JUNE 2019

09h00 – 09h15 Dr Alette Schoon –  Welcome and programme for the day Room 202
09h15 – 10h15 Prof Axel Bruns – Are Filter Bubbles Real?

Outline

Are Filter Bubbles Real? The success of political movements that appear to be immune to any factual evidence that contradicts their claims – from the Brexiteers to the ‘alt-right’, neo-fascist groups supporting Donald Trump – has reinvigorated claims that social media spaces constitute so-called ‘filter bubbles’ or ‘echo chambers’. But while such claims may appear intuitively true to politicians and journalists – who have themselves been accused of living in filter bubbles –, the evidence that ordinary users experience their everyday social media environments as uniform and homophilous spaces is far more limited. For instance, a 2016 Pew Center study has shown that only 23% of U.S. users on Facebook and 17% on Twitter now say with confidence that most of their contacts’ views are similar to their own. 20% have changed their minds about a political or social issue because of interactions on social media. Similarly, large-scale studies of follower and interaction networks on social media show that such networks are often thoroughly interconnected and facilitate the flow of information across boundaries of personal ideology and interest, except for a few especially hardcore partisan communities. This talk explores the evidence for and against echo chambers and filter bubbles. It moves the present debate beyond a merely anecdotal footing, and offers a more reliable assessment of this purported threat.
Room 202
10h15 – 10h45 Tea break Tea Room
10h45-11h45 Indra de Lanerolle – The poverty of methods in studying ‘the internet of the poor’

Outline

The poverty of methods in studying ‘the internet of the poor’ In this talk, I consider how the ‘internet of the poor’ – the internet that most people in South Africa and Africa experience – poses new and important questions to internet researchers. Do we have the right tools to study this phenomena? And how do we need to apply them? This feels to me to be an urgent and unanswered question. Internet time and academic time are, unsurprisingly perhaps, out of sync. The major internet giants are changing the objects of study more quickly than we develop approaches to researching them. Our research approaches and access are  constrained by those who control the major digital platforms. The resources of university researchers are dwarfed by the research capabilities of those corporations that own the networks we study. These are global problems, but in Africa there are particular issues of method that demand responses. As Jonathan Donner observes, just as the internet comes within reach of the majority of people on the planet, the internet they participate in and which we study may not be the same internet. This ‘other’ internet we have described as the internet of the poor. Studying this other internet poses methodological challenges. I examine three of these challenges drawing on examples of internet research in South Africa and other African countries over the last decade. The first challenge is that while we need reliable quantitative survey research to understand how South Africans and Africans use, access and shape an African internet, we struggle to produce such data. The cost and complexity of selecting representative samples is much greater in Africa than in many other parts of the world. Data inequalities precede and are being reproduced in digital inequalities. The second challenge concerns observational bias – we are tending to look in places that are easier to see. The Twitter API gives us access to data that enables us to use research methods that we cannot apply to, for example, WhatsApp which is far more widely used in South Africa and on the rest of the continent. The third challenge is that researchers on the continent are struggling with the methodological innovations required to explore and understand the phenomena we are examining. Our capacity – and our desire to learn about – statistical and network analysis tools for example, is limiting our research capabilities.  And just as we are recipients of global internet phenomena we are also recipients of global research methodologies. We are not using our understanding of our own context to select or develop appropriate methods. Where we do, we are failing to share these amongst researchers on the continent and beyond. This Symposium comes at a crucial time. It offers opportunities to develop our technical knowledge and skills. It also offers the opportunity to set an agenda for collaborating in developing a new toolkit of research methods appropriate for understanding the internet of the poor.
Room 202
11h45 – 12h45 Marco Konopacki – Computational Power: Automated Use of WhatsApp in the Elections 

Outline

The 2018 Presidential Elections has raised great concern in Brazilian media, academia and society regarding the strategic use of political campaigning on social networks, mainly the messaging application WhatsApp. In this context, this study investigates the primary factors that demonstrate the degree of coordination among WhatsApp groups and identifies patterns of behavior of users who are disseminating content. To this end, we monitored 110 open political groups on WhatsApp for a period of one week, and we analyzed the list of members and messages to answer three questions: 1) if there are indications of automation being used to send messages; 2) if there are indications of coordinated distribution of information among WhatsApp groups; and 3) what the degree of connection among participants and administrators of the political groups on the platform is. Our study concluded that there is strong evidence of automation being used in multiple WhatsApp groups and that there is a high degree of interconnection, as evidenced by the large number of administrators and members shared by these groups among each other.
Room 202
12h45 -14h00 Lunch and networking JMS Topfloor
14h00 – 15h00 Prof  Tanja Bosch – Social media apps and everyday life in South Africa

Outline

Over the past decade, social media platforms have deeply penetrated the fabric of everyday life. The growth of the internet has led to the proliferation of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; and despite ongoing issues related to the ‘digital divide’, increased access to the mobile internet in Africa has resulted in more people using their mobile phones to go online; and the consequent growth and popularity of social media. In this talk I explore how social media is used in South Africa, through briefly touching on a range of platform specific case studies exploring e.g. Strava within the context of the sociocultural practice of contemporary self-tracking practices in the African context, Tinder and the visual politics of online dating and the digital transformation of intimacy; as well as exploring location based apps such as Instagram and how these result in geocoded digital traces which can be analysed to access the complexities of the urban experience. More specifically, I consider social media as a reflection of people’s private lives, and not just a source or expression of political power; keeping in mind that social mediation transcends the personal and political, so that sometimes politics emerges from the personal. In this talk I reflect on social media and everyday life in South Africa, doing digital research in South Africa, and drawing on concepts such as ‘mundane data’ (Lupton, 2016) to explore how digital data plays a central role in purposing and repurposing concepts of the self, how social relationships are configured and negotiated via data; and how people incorporate data into their practices and concepts of selfhood and embodiment; while simultaneously foregrounding the “agency and reflexivity of individual users as well as the variable ways in which power and participation are constructed and enacted” (Pink et al 2017, 2).
Room 202
15h00 – 15h30 Afternoon Tea JMS Foyer
15h30 – 17h00

Parallel Sessions: Panel discussions

Discussion A: Visual analysis in the age of selfie culture

Dr Priscilla Boshoff – Becoming subjects: A social semiotics approach to researching digital self-representation

Outline

The representation of the self is the premise of participation in social media: social media culture demands that, as participants, we construct and display versions of the self to interact with others, and for others to respond to. The texts that are produced are the outcome of choices made within the boundaries of the genres implicit within these online spaces. I present here an approach to researching the visual “mode” of online self-representation, drawing on Kress and van Leeuwen’s theory of social semiotics. In social semiotics, meaning making is understood as a dynamic social practice whereby people draw strategically on the systems of meaning available to them: thus, in the processes of visual self-representation, social media participants adapt and deploy the signs and their meanings available to them in their own interests, and in so doing construct particular forms of subjectivity, oriented in particular ways to the dominant discourses of the social arena in which they are located. I illustrate my presentation with reference to the visual self-representations of global and local celebrities on social media.

Mikaela Oosthuizen – Digiphrenia and the Instagram Versus Reality Movement, an Explorative study on Identity Creation

Outline

“Digiphrenia,” which is characterised as the experience of trying to exist in more than one incarnation of yourself at the same time is an unintended after effect of the presentation of one’s ideal self, online. These fragmented identities often manifest as warped representations of the real self. Online movements such as #InstagramVSReality have however subverted this narrative. A desktop content analysis on a sample group of these images is indicative of how Instagram users are increasing self-awareness in terms of their online identity creation and are striving for authenticity in an online world. Index Terms—Instagram, Online Identities, Digiphrenia, Social Media, Online Movements, Reclaiming Authenticity

Chaired by Prof Larry Strelitz

Discussion B: Methods for studying Twitter in an African context – Room 201 

Dr Mthobeli Ngcongo and Linda Fekisi – It takes a village…: locating the surveilant power of black Twitter to authenticate performativity on Date My Family

Outline

Viewers of South African reality dating shows have found a platform through Twitter to radically change the manner in which they consume content of the shows. Audiences of Date My Family and Uyang’thanda Na use this social media platform as an opportunity to express their views and judgements about the show and in particular about the performances of those seeking love on the show. The traditionally private act of courtship in an African context is reimagined in the manner in which audiences in these shows have brought the scrutiny of private act into the public realm. Through a frame analysis of one of the first noteworthy episodes of Date My Family and subsequent value judgement by viewers on Twitter, this paper argues that there is nothing inherently surprising about the seeming shift of power to the audience in authenticating contestant performance on South African reality dating shows

Meli Ncube – #NdebeleTwitter: Tweeting away marginalization and reinforcing belonging?

Outline

Zimbabwe like most African countries is a multicultural nation with multiple ethnolinguistic groups – groups that are unified by both a common ethnicity and language. The country is characterised by a complex language ecology which comprises multiple ethnolinguistic identities and the politics of language and belonging are contentious issues. The subject of ethnicity is sensitive and is to some extent associated with undertones of regionalism and division. In the Zimbabwe context any attempt to discuss ethnicity risks being labelled as tribalism and, therefore, divisive to a ‘supposedly’ united nation. It is against this background that disenfranchised linguistic minorities have taken advantage of the liberative potential of social media. They are regrouping in the virtual space and in the process forming vibrant ethnolinguistic online communities such as #NdebeleTwitter on Twitter. This research seeks to critically analyse the motivations and purpose of this particular Zimbabwean ethnolinguistic online community. This is done by critically analysing #NdebeleTwitter by examining the online community by posing questions such as; i. Who are the prominent users, and what are they frequently commenting on when using the hashtag #NdebeleTwitter? ii. What types of interactions emerge under the use of the hashtag? iii. What interpretation patterns can be distinguished in the way users engage with one another on the hashtag? iv. What types of prominent themes can be identified? v. What are the determinants that an individual is part of #NdebeleTwitter? vi. How do users under the hashtag engage with other users outside of #NdebeleTwitter, in particular those who hold a critical perspective? The research will use the application tools Mecodify and Twitonomy examine information flow, influence, opinions and sentiments. Mecodify is an open-source tool for simplifying big data analysis and visualization, and Twitonomy is an analytics tool that provides insights and features that help monitor, manage, track and optimize activities on Twitter.

Chaired by Kayla Roux

Discussion C: Participatory Approach and Action Research

Job Mwaura – Digital Media Research in Kenya: A Methodological Reflection

Outline

Digital data has afforded researchers novel modalities of researching almost all fields of study. Researching using digital data, just like data that involve people, requires digital researchers to be aware of the complex power relations, ethical issues, voice and accountability. Methodological context, on the other hand, plays an integral part in generation/collection and interpretation of data. This paper contains my methodological reflections of researching in and about Kenya for the last seven years, and suggest essential lessons for digital researchers. It is important to note that Kenya, as a postcolonial nation carries important historical past of pre and postcolonial. Also, socio-political and cultural issues become embedded in digital spaces and thus affect how certain digital data is generated and analysed. For instance, ethnic and religious diversity, political affiliations, class dynamics and gender issues are vital issues that should be considered by digital researchers researching about Kenya. Kenya has an ethnic and religious plurality that is politicised since they become epicentres of power contestations since independence at a regional and national level. Interestingly, these issues do not affect all geographical locations in Kenya uniformly since most of these regions do not share the same socio-political and cultural issues. Having an understanding of these contextual issues became and have continued to be important in my research because they shape my methodological approach as well as the interpretation of research findings. Understanding these contextual issues in digital media spaces has the implication of increasing digital media research output in Kenya and about Kenya since, like many other nations in sub-Saharan Africa, research in digital media technologies remains thin. Key Words: Digital Media, Methodology, Kenya, Context

Dr Anthony Ambala – Centering marginal voices: Participatory Action Research and Digital storytelling approaches for self-representation among the Abakuria of Kenya

Outline

The Abakuria speaking people of Kenya are numerically one of the minority communities constituting just under 0.58% of the country’s population. This numerical disadvantage has meant that their voices have been relegated to the margins of socio-cultural and political discourse in Kenya. As of 1 January 2016, the Abakuria of Kenya did not have a single radio FM or television station broadcasting in their language. This, in contrast to certain dominant language groups that have had several broadcasting platforms in their languages and dialects for over 20 years now. This study, therefore, sought to determine the extent to which ordinary citizens – especially those on the margins of the dominant centre – could actively participate in the (co)generation, (co)production and (co)distribution of broadcast content, and to determine what value such participation could offer them, both culturally and socioeconomically. To achieve this objective, several possible approaches and methodologies through which the Abakuria community could actively access a platform for self-expression and self-representation in the digital media scape were considered resulting into an adapted confluence between Participatory Action Research and Digital Storytelling approaches. The pilot project entailed working with eight “ordinary members” of the community over eight days in a process that resulted in the production of short films and photography for digital broadcasting. The participants received technical training workshops on conceptualising and crafting their narratives; basics of photography, cinematography, video and image editing; other basic postproduction skills such as titling and subtitling; and an introduction to some digital platforms that could be considered for broadcasting. Key words: Digital storytelling, self-expression, self-representation, Active User Generated Content.

Chaired by Rod Amner

Room 202

 

 

 

 

Room 201

 

 

 

 

Room 203

16h30 Walk up to the Monument (bring comfortable shoes) for Book Club and drinks Monument

 

FRIDAY 7 JUNE 2019

09h00 – 09h05 Prof Harry Dugmore-  Overview of the day Room 202
09h05- 10h05 Doing ethical research in African online environments and researching the African diaspora. Q&A with Prof Wisdom Tettey. Room 202
10h05 – 10h20 Tea break JMS foyer

10h20- 16h00

(Please choose one per session)

 

Parallel Workshops : Quantitative – Writing lab

10h20 – 11h40 A Prof Axel Bruns – Using TCAT and Tableau in writing lab

Outline

This data analytics and visualisation workshop introduces a number of standard tools and methods for large-scale data analytics, using Twitter data to illustrate these approaches. The workshop introduces participants to the open-source Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolkit (TCAT) as a capable and reliable tool for data gathering from the Twitter API, and to the high-end data analytics software Tableau as a powerful means of processing and visualising large datasets. The skills gained in the workshop are also transferrable to working with other large datasets from social media and other sources. The workshop is suitable for participants new to working with social media datasets, and as a refresher for more experienced users.
11h40 – 13h00 C Prof Tanja Bosch and Mr Meli Ncube– Open Source Twitter analytics

Outline

This workshop will introduce participants to Mecodify, a bespoke Twitter analysis tool freely available on GitHub. Using Mecodify’s web search method for data collection produces the same results as when using the web search through Twitter’s Advanced Search page. Mecodify crawls the Twitter search page via a built-in script and extracts the tweets pulled up by search queries. It then fetches all messages and relevant information about the users who tweeted via the Twitter Application Program Interface (API). Mecodify can be used in conjunction with the open source tool Kumu, for social network analysis.
13h00 – 14h30 Lunch
14h30-16h00 E Marco Konopacki – WhatsApp bot tracking

Outline

On this workshop we will discuss approaches to conduct private messaging and social media research through WhatsApp. The workshop has three moments. First, to analyze the context and doing exploratory research on WhatsApp groups. When should I apply this methodology? Second, to describe the resources applying to foster message analyzing on WhatsApp. What do I need to apply this methodology? Third, to discover what the data can tell about content spreading. How do I learn from data? It will be a hands on workshop, so bring your computer and download in advance the open source library WebWhatsapp-Wrapper (https://github.com/mukulhase/WebWhatsapp-Wrapper), Python SDK and coding tools (https://www.python.org/), and Docker container (https://www.docker.com/).

Parallel Workshops :Qualitative – Boardroom

10h20 – 11h40 B Indra de Lanerolle and Dr Alette Schoon – Izolo Diary Method

Outline

Izolo Diary Method – Indra de Lanerolle and Dr. Alette Schoon * The word Izolo means yesterday in the South African language isiXhosa. Our method is about creating a detailed picture of what yesterday’s mobile phone practices looked like for one particular person through a long interview. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn how we used this method to understand the mobile practices of the “less-connected” in South Africa, marginalised users of the mobile internet who primarily use data-light applications like WhatsApp. We will also explore some of the ethical and practical challenges we encountered. Diary methods, while widely used in media studies over many decades have proved difficult to adapt for studying mobile phone use. The method we developed uses a reconstructed diary approach. It involves a guided interview where researchers aim to elicit a detailed description of the everyday practices and contexts of mobile communications during one day or period of the day. The responses are captured both in note format on the questionnaire and as recorded interviews to provide more detailed qualitative data. We will focus on sections of the questionnaire that deal with capturing holistic scenes of daily life and the mobile practices that form part of such scenes, mobile practices that may be both functional and symbolic. You will have a chance to work with an original questionnaire from our project to try and capture a picture of everyday mobile use of your colleagues in the workshop. Participants will report back on their experience of using the method. The session will end with a discussion around how one analyses the data to build holistic understandings of mobile practices among the “less-connected” and whether this method can be usefully used or adapted for other studies and contexts. * The Izolo Diary Method was developed by Indra de Lanerolle, Marion Walton and Alette Schoon.
11h40 – 13h00 D Prof Jean Burgess – App walkthrough method

Outline

Software applications (apps) are the site of significant sociocultural and economic transformations across many domains, from health and relationships to entertainment and finance. As relatively closed systems, apps pose methodological challenges for digital media research. In this session, we will discuss the walkthrough method approach, which combines cultural studies and science and technology studies (STS) as a lens for critical app analysis. Participants will learn how to establish an app’s environment of expected use by assessing its vision, operating model, and modes of governance. They will also gain hands-on experience using the walkthrough technique to systematically step through the stages of registration, everyday use, and discontinuation to identify the app’s embedded cultural meanings and implied ideal users, as well as to identify traces of its data flows and algorithmic logics.
13h00 – 14h30 Lunch
14h30-16h00 F

Gus Silber, Heather Robertson and Prof Harry Dugmore- Researching South African Journalism in an age of digital interactivity

Outline

In this interactive workshop veteran South African journalists Heather Robertson and Gus Silber work with their supervisor Prof Harry Dugmore to present participants with various scenarios from their qualitative research. The workshop involves a range of discussions on how to build theory from rich qualitative data. Using examples from Gus’s research, the participants will share the intimate world of news consumption and digital circulation among various Johannesburg families. Heather’s research explores the process of creating alternative expert content by South African legal scholars whose blogs are widely consulted by both journalists and the general public for complex legal analysis of everyday politics. Linking their data to theories from digital news production and distribution, allows us to interrogate established ideas around networking and news, public spheres and private life, prosumer news media channels and the conceptual borders between amateur and professional news production. Most of the focus on methods tends to focus on data gathering. By focusing on the process of data analysis, we hope to stimulate debate among participants in terms of how they analyse their own data.
16h00-16h15 Afternoon Tea JMS Topfloor
16h15 – 17h15 Prof Anthea Garman – CLOSING SESSION :Priorities for Global South Research Methods and Future Collaborations Room 202
17h30-19h00 Cocktails and Closing JMS Foyer

 

Speakers profiles

Prof. Wisdom Tettey

Prof. Wisdom Tettey

Vice-president and Principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada.

Professor Wisdom Tettey, a political scientist who is a leading researcher on the African diaspora, politics and media, is the current Vice-president and Principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada. Born in Ghana, Prof Tettey holds a PhD from Queen’s University, and an MA from UBC. His research interests include political economy of globalization and information technology in Africa; media, politics and civic engagement in Africa; African higher education and the knowledge society; and, transnational citizenship and the African diaspora. Prof Tettey was a Killam Resident Fellow at the University of Calgary and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development. He was named a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013.

Prof. Jean Burgess

Prof. Jean Burgess

Professor of Digital Media and Director of the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia

Jean Burgess (@jeanburgess) is a Professor of Digital Media and Director of the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. Her research focuses on the uses, cultures and politics of social and mobile media platforms, as well as new and innovative digital methods for studying them. Her co-authored and edited books include YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Polity Press, 2009; second edition 2018), Studying Mobile Media: Cultural Technologies, Mobile Communication, and the iPhone (Routledge, 2012), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013),  Twitter and Society (Peter Lang, 2014), and The SAGE Handbook of Social Media (2017). Her next book is Twitter – A Biography (with Nancy Baym, in press with NYU Press and forthcoming in 2019/20). She has worked successfully with a range of government, industry and not-for-profit organisations to address the practical challenges and opportunities posed by digital and social media; as well as to deploy advanced social media analytics to understand and engage with the concerns of their communities. She collaborates widely with colleagues across QUT and around Australia, as well as with leading researchers in Germany, Brazil, the UK, Canada, the USA, and Taiwan.

Prof. Axel Bruns

Prof. Axel Bruns

Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Prof. Axel Bruns is a Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Are Filter Bubbles Real? (forthcoming 2019), Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008), and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Digitizing Democracy (2019), the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), Twitter and Society (2014), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (2012), and Uses of Blogs (2006). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’. His research blog is at http://snurb.info/, and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info. He currently serves as President of the Association of Internet Researchers.

Prof. Tanja Bosch

Prof. Tanja Bosch

Associate Professor of Media Studies and Production in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town

Tanja Bosch is an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Production in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, where she also holds the position of Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Affairs. She teaches journalism and multimedia production, social media, radio studies and research methods at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her first book, Broadcasting Democracy: Radio and Identity in South Africa, was published by the HSRC Press in 2017. She is currently working on a second monograph titled Social Media and Everyday Life in South Africa (Routledge, forthcoming 2020). Dr Bosch has published widely in the field of radio studies in South Africa; and is currently emerging as one of the few academics locally publishing in the area of social media activism, with her work on #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall.

Indra de Lanerolle

Indra de Lanerolle

Director of JAMLAB - the Journalism and Media Lab at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Indra de Lanerolle is the director of JAMLAB – the Journalism and Media Lab at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has published research on convergence in African communications policy, on the use of digital technologies in accountability and transparency in Africa,  and on mobile phone practices amongst South Africans on low incomes. At jamlab, Indra leads a team that applies research in support of innovation in civic technologies and digital media. He is an experienced media producer whose work has been shown at the Cannes, Venice and Berlin film festivals and has received a Peabody Award.

 Marco Konopacki

Marco Konopacki

Marco is currently pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Political Science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and he holds a Master’s Degree from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) in Political Science

Marco is currently pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Political Science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and he holds a Master’s Degree from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) in Political Science. Marco worked as a visiting professor at the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) in the areas of software development management, telemetry, and georeferencing. He is a researcher on themes such as Governance of Information Technology, Software Development, and Social and Political Participation. Marco has had many experiences in both the public and private sectors. He was advisor in the Secretary of Legislative Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, where he coordinated the public debate on the regulation of Brazil’s Internet Bill of Rights. Fellow at The Governance Lab at New York University and Project Coordinator in the area of Democracy and Technology at the Institute for Technology & Society of Rio (ITS Rio).

Gus Silber

Gus Silber

Award-winning journalist, author, scriptwriter, speechwriter and media trainer

Gus Silber is an award-winning journalist, author, scriptwriter, speechwriter and media trainer. He has an extensive background in newspaper and magazine journalism, as a reporter, columnist, feature writer and editor.

He is the author of several commercially-published books, covering a wide diversity of themes and subjects, from South African sociopolitical satire (It Takes Two to Toyi-Toyi) to innovation in business (Radical Innovation) to social entrepreneurship (The Disruptors) to mobile technology (Mobinomics).

As a media trainer, Gus has run workshops and mentorship programmes on social media, mobile journalism, feature writing, and general aspects of journalism, for publishing companies, Government and private sector organisations, and special-interest groups.

He also serves regularly as a mentor and external examiner for Journalism Honours student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Gus is currently a part-time MA Journalism candidate at Rhodes University, with a special interest in digital journalism.

Heather Robertson

Heather Robertson

Executive Director of Change Routes Communications

Heather Robertson recently graduated with a masters in journalism and media studies with distinction from Rhodes University. Her thesis focused on what meanings professionals like lawyers make of their role in the digital media ecosystem. She has 30 years’ experience in the media, was former editor Of The Herald and Weekend Post and former deputy editor of The Sunday Times and Elle Magazine. She is currently the sole owner and executive director of Change Routes Communications, a consultancy focusing on media management, media training, editing and communications

Prof. Anthea Garman

Prof. Anthea Garman

Deputy Head of School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University

Anthea Garman teaches writing and editing, long-form journalism, multimedia storytelling and academic writing in the School of Journalism and Media Studies. At present she is leading an NRF-funded research project called “Licence to Talk” (2019 to 2021) which seeks to ascertain the shifts and ruptures in what is said and what is sayable in the South African public sphere at this present moment. The study seeks to assess whether listening theory offers new practices for those conducting public debates, discussions and engagements, whether they be face to face encounters, via the media or on social media. She is a member of the School’s Mellon-funded research project (2018 to 2012) called Media and Sociality which uses coloniality theory to examine highly digitised post-colonial spaces and their possibilities for social connection. She is part of the Public Life of Ideas research network led by Prof Carolyn Hamilton at UCT and a member of an international network of listening theorists led by Prof Leah Bassel at Roehampton University and Prof Tanja Dreher at the University of New South Wales. She is co-editor (with Herman Wasserman) of Media and Citizenship in South Africa: Between Marginalisation and Participation (HSRC Press) and Antjie Krog and the Postapartheid South African Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power (UKZN). A comprehensive list of her work can be found at https://rhodes-za.academia.edu/AntheaGarman

Prof. Harry Dugmore

Prof. Harry Dugmore

Coordinator of Digital Journalism Research project, and Director of the Centre for Health Journalism at Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies

Harry Dugmore is the coordinator of Digital Journalism Research project,  and Director of the Centre for Health Journalism at Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies in Grahamstown, South Africa. Harry is deputy Chair of the Board of Grocott’s Mail, South Africa’s oldest independent newspaper and the Boards of Grahamstown Foundation and the National Arts Festival. He was coordinating author of The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) consensus study Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa, published in 2015. More recently Harry produced the OSFSA-funded report Paying the Piper: The sustainability of the news industry and journalism in South Africa in a time of digital transformation and political uncertainty (May 2018).  Harry was Visiting Researcher at Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre, in Brisbane, Australia,  during 2018.

Dr Alette Schoon

Dr Alette Schoon

Senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Media Studies

Dr Alette Schoon is a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Media Studies where she teaches documentary filmmaking, multimedia production and internet studies. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town; her thesis focused on the digital media ecologies of hip-hop artists. Alette has published in the fields of mobile communications, digital media production and participatory media. She collaborated on a research project on the “less-connected”, which documented a detailed picture of how marginalised South Africans use their mobile phones through a methodology of “mobile diaries”.  She is a teacher and researcher on the Mellon project on Digitalities and Socialities, lead by Prof Lynette Steenveld, where she runs a course in Digital Materiality and Pirate Infrastructure. She is currently engaged in a research project on Science Communication. Before coming to academia Alette worked for more than a decade as a documentary filmmaker, producing hundreds of short films broadcast nationally. Her work has been shown at various film festivals around the world. She has also spent short stints working as a computer programmer and a community computer and internet trainer. She also holds a BSc in Mathematics and Applied Maths from the University of Pretoria, a Diploma in Film and Video from Tshwane University of Technology, and Honours and Masters degrees in Journalism and Media Studies from Wits and Rhodes University respectively.

Panel Participants

 Meli Ncube

Meli Ncube

PhD student in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town

Meli M Ncube completed his MA in Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University in 2015. His research examined dialogues, turn-taking, and conversations – all features of deliberations – on ‘Zimbabwean’ Twitter. Currently he is completing a PhD study in the same field at UCT where his research focus is on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp) and its influence on democracy.

Job Mwaura

Job Mwaura

PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand, in the Department of Media Studies

Job Mwaura is a PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand, in the Department of Media Studies. His research examines Digital Activism in Kenya. He has worked as a qualitative researcher for several years in Kenya. Job is also teaches undergraduate Research Methods, Media and Democracy in Africa as well as The Internet for Global South at University of Witwatersrand.

Dr Anthony Ambala

Dr Anthony Ambala

Senior lecturer and head of the Multimedia Department, FADA, at the University of Johannesburg

Dr Ambala is a senior lecturer and head of the Multimedia Department, FADA, at the University of Johannesburg. He holds a PhD from Wits University, Johannesburg. His research interests are in immersive and interactive systems, participatory discourses and active user generated content, from an African lens. He is supervising postgraduate research studies at Honours, Masters and PhD levels.

Mikaela Oosthuizen

Mikaela Oosthuizen

PhD student in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University

A previous Vice Chancellors’ Scholar at Nelson Mandela University, Mikaela Oosthuizen holds a Cum Laude degree in BA Media, Communications and Culture, as well as an Honours in Corporate Communication. As a Mandela Rhodes Scholar she completed her Masters in Media Studies from the University of Witwatersrand and is currently completing her PhD at Rhodes University investigating the construct, and innate subversion of, authenticity on social media platforms.

 

Dr Priscilla Boshoff

Dr Priscilla Boshoff

Senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Media Studies

Dr Boshoff is a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Media Studies where she teaches media and cultural studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her interest in popular culture has led to the development of a variety of courses, informed by post-colonial and post-structural theory, that examine the representations of race, class and gender in local television, edutainment programming, tabloid news, magazines and social media. Drawing on a cultural studies approach to the study of the media, she also  teaches audience studies and related research methods.

Dr. Mthobeli Ngcongo

Dr. Mthobeli Ngcongo

Lecturer at the University of Free State in the department of communication science

Dr. Mthobeli Ngcongo is a lecturer at the University of Free State in the department of communication science. He holds a Doctorate in Fundamental Communication Theory with specialization in interpersonal intimate communication. His research interests are relational dialectics, Impression Management and the communication of identities. He is the current deputy convenor of the South African Communication Association’s Emerging Scholar’s section.

Linda Fekisi

Linda Fekisi

Journalist and junior lecturer at the University of the Free State in the Department of Communication Science

Linda Fekisi is a journalist and junior lecturer at the University of the Free State in the Department of Communication Science. She holds an MA in Communication Science with specialisation in Media Studies and Journalism. Her research interests are media history, journalism and social media.

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