Supporting democracy by generating research and solutions for the media and audiovisual sectors in Africa
The GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank was launched in September 2021 as an independent research and advocacy platform for the media and audiovisual industries in Africa. The launch comes at a time when the media is confronted by a perfect storm of mis/dis-information, challenges to its sustainability and the extra-territorial power of social media platforms. The Media Leadership Think Tank will not only focus on news media but will also include research and dialogues on audiovisual content and the attention economy. This research will be informed by deeper insights into what audiences and the public need from the media in order to become active citizens.
The main purpose of the Think Tank is to support democracy by generating research and solutions for business, civil society and government policy in the broad media and audiovisual space on the African continent. The Think Tank will draw on experts from across Africa and globally and will reach out to key organisations, leaders and educational institutions. Through research and high level engagements with these stakeholders, the Think Tank will seek to promote a more ethical understanding of audiences in the increasingly fragmented, multichannel and data-driven world.
Why Media Leadership?
Re-imagining and creating a new media is inextricably linked to creating societies based on participatory democracy and inclusive economies. As explained by the University of Pretoria’s Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe at the launch of the Think Tank, the initiative “is part of a larger, more ambitious programme” which aims to introduce “new innovative and creative media education and training programmes that combine substantive and in-depth knowledge of media as an institution and the media landscape in a changing context, and the mastery of a range of specific and specialised skills”.
Professor Kupe: “Our vision is of media education and training which places critical analytical media and society debates at the centre and then allows participants to follow streams of interest and specialisation in media management, content creation, audience research and technologies of production as well as media policy and regulation”.
As part of building towards this vision, the Think Tank will engage in critical dialogues with journalism and media studies professionals and academics as well as subject specialists in the social sciences, economics, business and finance, natural and applied sciences and technology. The launch of the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank in Johannesburg – the media capital of South Africa and a major African media hub – is the first step in this longer term journey, with GIBS taking the lead as an incubator of the new programme. GIBS Interim Dean, Dr Morris Mthombeni said, “At GIBS we are a proud UN PRME Champion School, and actively use our considerable convening capital to advance the fourth estate by enabling a world with responsible information – both online and offline. The Media Leadership Think Tank is an important initiative in the fulfilment of our commitments to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 (specifically target 10) – ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedom.”
Launch of the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank
Head of the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank
GIBS has appointed Michael Markovitz to head and build up this initiative. Markovitz is currently a non-executive director on the board of the SABC and has over two decades of experience as a consultant and business executive in the media and entertainment industries. During this time he advised large corporates, start-ups and NGOs and headed up a South African media company’s digital division, responsible for acquisitions and setting up new businesses in the digital space. Markovitz has played senior advisory roles over the years and was the head of the Expert Reference Panel advising the South African government on the audio and audiovisual services policy review process which commenced in 2020. He has also worked as a senior adviser at ICASA and played a part in drafting South Africa’s new broadcasting legislation in 1993.
In order to facilitate solutions and change in key focus areas, the Think Tank will organise webinars, lectures and critical dialogues with stakeholders, including government, industry groups and civil society bodies across Africa. For 2021/2022 the key focus areas are:
• the sustainability of journalism and the media;
• solutions to combating mis/disinformation;
• competition in the digital economy; and
• Internet freedom and access to information.
The Think Tank is currently involved in discussions with leading role players to determine the research priorities in the key focus areas.
Contact:Michael MarkovitzHead: GIBS Media Leadership Think Tankmarkovitzm@gibs.co.za