MDIF clients and partners sweep the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Africa 2024

MDIF clients and partners sweep the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Africa 2024

MDIF clients and media partners emerged victorious in eight categories at the World Association of News Publishers’ Digital Media Awards Africa 2024.

The awards, according to the WAN-IFRA website, recognize “initiatives that placed their audiences at the center of their work, resulting in increased engagement and positive feedback from readers.”

Daily Maverick, Food for Mzansi and Media Hack Collective – all clients and participants in our South Africa Media Innovation Program – won in the following categories:

Daily Maverick: Best News Website, Best Newsletter, Best use of AI in the Newsroom and Best Fact Checking project.

Food for Mzansi: Best Digital Subscription/Reader Revenue Project, Best Podcast and an honorable mention for Best Native Advertising Campaign.

Media Hack Collective – Best Data Visualization.

This is how WAN-IFRA described the winning projects:

“Best Data Visualisation

Project: Perfect Storm
Company: Media Hack Collective, South Africa

After deadly storms hit Durban in April 2022, the team at Media Hack Collective wanted their journalism to showcase potential solutions to mitigate future climate disasters instead of just documenting the devastation they produced. They dove into data about the city’s coastal resilience, academic literature, case studies and more to create a deep dive with explainers, data analysis, visuals, and a resource guide for other journalists. Judges said: “It’s no mean feat to compile such a detailed report packed with meteorological and socioeconomic data in a country where weather-related reporting is nearly always superficial at best. To then also present the facts in such a way that a compelling narrative unfolds – from a night of watery terror to a major city’s long-term survival plans – is even better. While the research is top-notch and the story-telling engaging, the digital presentation is equally well done. The reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed and the mix of static and interactive graphics is well balanced.”

Best News Website

Project: Daily Maverick Website
Company: Daily Maverick, South Africa

A masterclass in being audience-centric, working to help readers navigate their daily lives, not just in the newsroom, but as an entire organisation. Using data to better understand their audiences’ needs, Daily Maverick made updates across the board including an auto-login feature, a daily crossword, a topic page specifically for good news, short summaries of articles, new video content, a career guide and more. These changes have helped them double their monthly readership, increased membership acquisition by 50% and grew the number of registered users by a remarkable 150%. Judges said: “What has stood out for me is how the audience is at the centre of everything the DM does. Particularly is the idea of asking audiences what they want to know and going ahead to deliver on it. They have included the audience’s voices in journalism, and in return, audiences have become loyal. I also like the idea of an audio version on the website.”

Best Digital Subscription / Reader Revenue Project

Project: Farmer’s Inside Track
Company: Food For Mzansi Group, South Africa

A membership model that centres around and empowers its community through exclusive content, a personalised experience, priority access and events and an online space to connect with other members. This membership club is a brilliant example of putting your audience at the heart of your strategy and not only increasing reach to new members, but creating strong engagement with your loyal readers. The club, which launched at their 2023 Mzansi Young Farmers Indaba, is a proven hit, with more than 1,100 members signing up, far surpassing the original goal of 250. Judges commented: “It’s a project that goes beyond contributing to readers’ revenues. By creating this membership strategy, Food for Mzansi is creating a permanent panel to question and refine its services and content, and is building an excellent loyalty and conversion tool.”

Best Newsletter

Project: Money Cents
Company: Daily Maverick, South Africa

This personal finance newsletter, evolving from a column in the weekly print paper, was created to help spread better financial literacy in a country that struggles with high income inequality, inflation, unemployment and debt. The lack of financial education left a big gap in audiences’ needs that “Money Cents” fills through helpful money tips, bite-sized information presented with infographics, and a light and humorous tone. With 90,000 subscribers and an average open rate of 61%, this newsletter is a clear winner with their audiences. Judges said: “The tone is conversational and friendly, inviting commentary and feedback, and the personalization of content invites an element of trust. A diverse range of topics, all informative and practical, adds further weight to what is clearly a valuable brand extension.”

Best Podcast

Project: Farmer’s Inside Track
Company: Food For Mzansi Group, South Africa

Seeing a gap in access to information for new commercial farmers in South Africa, Food for Mzansi created this podcast to engage better and inform this community. The team developed a user-centered podcast with a range of topics delivered through three distinct weekly episodes, focused on mentoring, farming issues and how-tos, and native content. With over 85,000 downloads in 2023, they have clearly met their audiences’ needs and created an important resource that engages and empowers the South African farming community. Judges remarked: “Farmer’s Inside Track could serve as a case study to serve up niche content that will appeal to all. Agriculture is, to many, a dry but vital subject matter; served here, it could be anyone’s cup of tea.”

Best Use of AI in the Newsroom

Project: Daily Maverick Article Summaries
Company: Daily Maverick, South Africa

Looking for a way to better engage a subset of readers who did not usually scroll through more than 30% of their content, Daily Maverick embraced AI to help create efficient and impactful article summaries. After a lot of testing and experimentation with OpenAI’s Playground, they paired their AI summaries with the editorial team to create a human in the loop system for two types of summaries: bullet points and a short summary. Designed for mobile first, the summaries allow readers to keep informed on a shorter time frame and provide a way for the readers who did not typically scroll past 30% to avoid news fatigue and enjoy their news experience. Judges said: “An inspirational experiment with AI that is on the way to reimagining journalism.”

Best Fact Checking Project

Project: Daily Maverick Fact-Check
Company: Daily Maverick, South Africa

Beyond ensuring their readers trust that what they read has been fact-checked, Daily Maverick further empowers their community to question and accurately identify misinformation. Readers send in questions or concerns around fact-checking topics, from which a video and article are produced to answer and educate about those issues. The videos, which average between 10,000-50,000 views, are created weekly and create both a crucial trust and a dialogue between Daily Maverick and its audience. Along with the article and the video being shared widely on social media, this project is a great example of both educating and empowering readers in an environment where disinformation can feel intimidating. Judges commented: “A very well-planned project that uses visual media for engagement. It has deployed users cleverly as ambassadors for amplification on social media, further adding to the enhanced reach and trust.”

Best Native Advertising Campaign – Honorable Mention 

Project: Meadow Feeds
Company: Food For Mzansi Group, South Africa

Finding a gap in technical animal nutrition information, Food for Mzansi partnered with animal nutrition solutions expert, Meadow Feeds to create a campaign that would serve this need. The collaboration was incorporated into their newsletter, podcast, technical articles and social media strategy to maximise reach and engagement with their community. The campaign generated more than 700,000 ad impressions on Food for Mzansi’s website, increased newsletter performance, and an impressive reach of 600,000 across Facebook and Instagram. This project showcases the power of a strong partnership aimed at serving the needs of audiences to better engage and empower communities.”

All the winners will automatically enter the 2024 Digital Media World Awards, competing with the top projects in regional categories from around the globe.

Big congratulations to all the winners!