Duke Menell Media Exchange held yet one of their annual media conference, a forum for interaction, ideas, and inspiration to build community and strengthen free press in South Africa.

Held this past weekend at Duke University, a phenomenal conference that brought together media houses, media veterans and journalists from all corners of the country, with the purpose to exchange ideas, solutions to better free press. 


Jam-packed with short sharps, panel sessions and keynotes, it is very much safe to say each person who attended was impacted positively and empowered, whether be a student / aspiring journalist/media houses runners or owners.

With the theme of this year’s conference being ‘Breaking & Building, we can confidently say that boundaries were broken, and solutions were built.


Day 2 kicked off with a panel session: Untold Stories We’re missing and why; which was moderated by Simon Allison (Mail and Guardian, Institute for Security Studies), Panellists:

Louse Vale (Association of Independence Publishers); Lebo Ramofoko (Soul cities); Duduetsang Makuse (SOS coalition); Niren Tolsi (The con); TO Molefe ( Collective Media Cooperative).


A panel session that brought the whole house to the realisation of how the journalism system in SA is broken, to a point where instead of telling a story before it gets heated up, we wait for the communities to heat things up by burning things down first.

Media workers need to make concerned and intentional effort to tell stories that don’t always sell and are not always glamorous but are necessary and important to many people in our country who need the media to help them speak truth to power.’’ Said Duduetsang Makuse

This panel brought so much realization to all the attendees just how journalism needs a lot of work to get it to be what it is supposed to be , a tool for the voiceless. “We can’t talk about the construction of news and journalism without deconstructing it first,” said TO Molefe.

People like Lebo Ramofoko spoke about how ack of transformative agenda in South African media is hindering progress on transforming society, matters of gender-based violence are deliberately ignored.  

Powerful keynote: Building a new Broadcaster; was given by Phatiswa Magopeni , who is the Group Executive of News and Current Affairs. She spoke on how the SABC suffered by losing credibility over the years and she intends to bring change in every aspect.

The SABC is reinventing itself as the country moves into its new dawn,” she said.

Phatiswa intends to use her current position at the SABC to bring back change and original purpose of the broadcaster as she extended her statement by saying, “We (SABC) are going back to the original purpose, to deliver our public mandate effectively and efficiently” as she spoke of the re-branding of news at SABC.



The conference also had short sharp like one from Laura Lopez Gonzalez (Bhekisisa) Healthy Stories who spoke on health stories to keep an eye on as journalists regarding health, especially the discrepancy in abortion legislation vs public health facilities that will provide the services. Less than 200 public facilities provide abortions in SA, Abortion remains stigmatized and many health facilities refuse access to safe abortions which could save women’s lives.
“Fragile services, lack of awareness and how the US is not funding organizations related to abortions, these are stories that journalists should be following, “she said.


Truly a life changing event aimed not only at impacting the attendees but everyone connected to them, “now that the seed has been planted, let us therefore cultivate, nature it until we then meet again in celebration of the harvest and the fruit thereof” @DukeMMX18



By: Bradley Brizzy
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