BARUA YA BARAZA: Tshepo’s Five in 500 , East Africa through Maps , and Them Mushrooms @ 50

BARUA YA BARAZA: Tshepo’s Five in 500 , East Africa through Maps , and Them Mushrooms @ 50

From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings, friends:

This week, we’re continuing with the format we introduced in the last edition, “Five in 500 .” It’s a brief interview featuring five questions for a media innovator to answer in just 500 words. This week I’m picking up on a conversation I had at Splice Beta in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia’s premier media start-up festival. I spoke to Tshepo Tshabalala, who’s project manager and team lead at JournalismAI, a global initiative that empowers news organisations to use artificial intelligence responsibly. Here’s his Five in 500:

What’s your innovation? Tell us about it, and why we should pay attention to what you’re working on.
At JournalismAI I’m working with and sharing what newsrooms around the world are doing with artificial intelligence in news organisations. 

What’s your top prediction for the most disruptive content format or storytelling technique African media will embrace in the near future?
Probably AI voice generators that not only clone voices but also translate audio content to other languages. And closely related to this will be the generation of realistic text to speech voice over online with AI. If done exceptionally well, news organisations will be able to reach wider audiences with translated content. In the same vein, it would be disruptive to radio or audio channels too, as audiences would be able to receive content in their preferred language. But this would need to be done responsibly and within the confines of regulations.

‼️What’s the most exciting project or initiative in African media innovation that you’ve come across recently?
Zimbabwe-based Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE) has created an AI news anchor called Alice. The AI newsreader has an account on X (Twitter) where they share news. I’m excited about it because it’s an opportunity for newsrooms to offer services and content in languages they previously never worked in. And it is something that can be used by all kinds of newsrooms.

Can you share a quick tip or strategy that African media organizations can implement right now to better engage their audiences and adapt to changing media consumption habits?
Create compelling and easy to understand social media copy that link back to your main content on your news platforms. Easy short explainers can come in handy. This can be done through just text or images, and/or both.

What’s the most underutilized resource or opportunity in the African media landscape that you believe has the potential to drive significant growth or positive change?
On WhatsApp, news organisations can use generativeAI chatbots that could help audiences verify news information. For the journalists/reporters, a chatbot plug in on a CMS could help reporters during the news gathering or production process, to give them context, nuance and history on an topic that was previously reported on by that publication. It would be a brilliant way for newsrooms to leverage their archives and evergreen content.

I’d also be happy to share:

What I’m Reading: Invisible Strings by Naledi Mashishi, which has been described as “an intoxicating blend of supernatural mystery, family secrets, and the corrupting power of popularity,” by this reviewer, who goes on to say, “it is a story addresses not only the scourge of charismatic pastors in South Africa, but how the past bleeds into the present, no matter how much we try to forget it.”

What I’m Watching: How To Change Your Mind, on Netflix. Author Michael Pollan explores the history of psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline in this docuseries, and their potential in treating mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and PTSD.

What I’m Listening to: Musically, I’m listening to Jorja Smith’s new album called Falling or Flying, and I’m really still enjoying DJ Lesoul’s Soul Awakening. On podcasts, I’m listening to We Can Do Hard Things.

My best,
Tshepo Tshabalala | JournalismAI


East Africa Through Maps

Discover the intricate interplay between geography and the diverse facets of life in the East and Horn of Africa with our upcoming event on Tuesday, December 5th. We invite you to engage in a thought-provoking conversation with Kenyan Geography, delving into the profound impact of the region’s geography on various aspects of its existence.

Through the lens of meticulously crafted illustrated maps, our exploration will encompass the climate, history, demographics, economy, conflict patterns, anthropology, and geopolitics of the region. Uncover the direct correlations between these vital elements and the geography of the Rift Valley, providing a comprehensive understanding of how the landscape has influenced the development and dynamics of East and Horn of Africa.

The conversation, moderated by Baraza’s Lead Curator, Christine Mungai, seeks to join

dots from different fields of knowledge to create a bigger picture and open our eyes to a unique perspective of viewing the region and the world in general.

Date: 5th December, 2023

Register to attend here.

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