Our Values

About MMA

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) was established in 1993 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, MMA has developed from a pure monitoring based project to an organisation that implements successful media strategies for change, using technology, social media and data tools to make our work more efficient and effective.

MMA acts in a watchdog role to promote ethical and fair journalism that supports human rights. The organisation promotes democracy and a culture where media and the powerful respect human rights and encourage a just and fair society.

MMA’s vision is a responsible, quality media that enables an engaged and informed citizenry in Africa and across the world. MMA aims to promote the development of a free, fair, ethical and critical media culture in South Africa and the rest of the continent. To achieve MMA’s vision, the three key areas that MMA seeks to address through a human rights-based approach are:

  • Media ethics
  • Media quality
  • Media freedom

Our theory of change

Our experience over the last 21 years has led us to believe that if we:

  • Analyse existing media content and disseminate findings
  • Undertake media related research and disseminate findings
  • Generate and place original rights-based content in mainstream media
  • Train journalists, audiences and the powerful on rights-based reporting and media literacy
  • Undertake lobbying and advocacy with media and the powerful

Then:

  • Media will be more diverse, ethical and accountable to their audiences
  • Audiences will engage more critically and constructively with media
  • The powerful will engage critically and constructively with media and audiences

If this happens:

  • A responsible, quality and free media that holds the powerful to account will be encouraged
  • Audiences will be able to hold media and the powerful to account
  • The powerful will communicate openly, transparently and effectively

This will ultimately lead to citizens, media and the powerful respecting a culture of human rights and thereby encouraging a just and fair society.

The problem we seek to address

We seek to address complex problems broadly in the media sector which require nuanced and strategic approaches to addressing them. The four problems we seek to address are:

  • Lack of accountability of media outlets to their audiences
  • Insufficient media quality and diversity
  • Threats to media freedom
  • Lack of effective audience engagement processes

The solution we offer

Our approach is to build on what works and find pragmatic solutions for what doesn’t. As such we offer the following tailored services to our partners.

  • Online tools for journalists and editors to do their work better
  • Research that helps media measure performance and also understand their audiences
  • Training and expert views to meet skills gaps and ethical practices in media
  • Policy submissions that help policy makers formulate policies that promote media freedom
  • Digital literacy as well as platforms for informed citizens engagement with media and the powerful

The success we seek to achieve

  • 50% increase in the use of our tools by journalists and audiences
  • 50% increase in media mentions
  • 30% increase in social media engagement with MMA materials
  • Continued qualitative credibility of our work based on feedback with key stakeholders

Each of these indicators can be measured using a data drawn from the use of our tools, well as what hour partners say about us.

Katy Katapodis, Editor in Chief, Eyewitness News
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Organisations like MMA can help hold a mirror up to the face of journalism in South Africa and allow us to self-examine
Mpumelelo MkhabelaEditor, Sowetan and Chair South African National Editors Forum
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MMA keeps us on our toes with regard to compliance with applicable media laws and regulations
Adi AyalDirector Code for South Africa and Open Data Advocate
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MMA keeps the media in check. Through their work, they temper biased coverage of current affairs and amplify the voices of marginalised communities
Lara Kantorup Executive Regulatory Strategy, Etv
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MMA is one of the few civil society bodies that has consistently put forward a principled and coherent position on media policy matters
Lara Kantorup Executive Regulatory Strategy, Etv
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MMA is one of the few civil society bodies that has consistently put forward a principled and coherent position on media policy matters

Our Partners

Broadly, our partners are the media industry, oversight structures civil society and citizens. These can be stratified as follows:

  • Media industry: Independent Group, Times Media Group, The Citizen, Mail & Guardian, Media 24, Association of Independent Publishers (AIP), South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), e.TV and ANN7
  • Oversight structures: Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), Press Council, Department of Communications (DOC), Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications (PCC), Print and Digital Media South Africa (PDMSA), Digital Media & Marketing Association (DMMA) and South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)
  • Civil society organisations and media audiences: Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ), Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Wits University School of Journalism, and Audiences are those that are interested in media issues, and those who wish to acquire critical media literacy skills

Our Impact

Our impact cannot only be measured by what our partners say about us, but also by the usefulness of our work and how people engage with our work. The President and the vice President of the Republic of South Africa have quoted our work on media related issues. Not only government see the value of our work. Media from the public broadcaster, SABC, to other independent broadcasters, print and online newspapers and community radio regularly invite us to comment on critical media issues.

Our competitive advantage

Our competitive advantage is anchored on the following four values:

  • Consistency: We consistently provide quality research based on good practices
  • Independence: We are independent from government and media interests
  • Uniqueness: No one else does what we do with the same intentions and methodologies
  • Innovation: We use innovative, practical technologies to meet the ever changing needs of our partners

Our Innovations

As one of the winners of the inaugural African News Innovation Challenge, we have been increasing the use of technology, as well as core elements of data mining and data journalism principles into our work. Through the following data tools (and additional ones currently under development, including the News Agenda on Twitter, Children and Media and Social Media Game), we aim to help improve media coverage and hold the powerful accountable.

Dexter

Dexter is our in-house tool that allows us to monitor media content and produce results in real-time. It builds on our 21 years of media monitoring experience. The output of the tool can be seen in our presentation of the media coverage of South Africa’s 2014 general elections: elections2014.mediamonitoringafrica.org. We encourage you to interact with the results and also share your views on the media coverage of these elections.

Wazimap

Wazimap is an interactive online information hub which provides easy access to information about elections and service delivery in South Africa. You can use Wazimap to enhance your stories with credible statistics about issues affecting the country. We developed Wazimap specifically to ‘disrupt” the way media historically covered elections and also with the idea of having it as a tool which users would go to beyond the elections period. What makes Wazimap special is that it acts as a starting point for anyone looking to write a story on key issues affecting South Africa. You can access Wazimap here: wazimap.co.za. Wazimap has been so successful to the extent that the African Media Initiative (AMI) is developing an equivalent for Kenya and Nigeria.

Newstools

NewsTools (Churnalism and NewsDiffs) are a suite of tools allowing media organisations to be better equipped to provide quality original news. Churnalism helps identify instances where media copy public relations content and present it as their own original content. It also identifies instances where media copy from each other. NewsDiffs tracks changes to online media stories. You can have a look at our NewsTools here: www.newstools.co.za. If you are interested in the tools, you can sign up to use our authentic news badge system.

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