Donor-funded journalism has helped to increase our online readership 420-fold between 2012 and 2017, but it also changed the way we worked.

Go inside a day in our newsroom: The realities of donor-funded journalism

Mia Malan
What’s a day in a donor-funded journalism centre like? Mia Malan reveals all in her latest article for the journal of African Journalism Studies.

It’s Monday morning and most reporters across the country are gearing up for daily or weekly diary meeting where they will discuss the day’s news and pitch story ideas to editors.

But not here at Bhekisisa. Well, not exactly. We’re preparing for a news meeting at the Mail & Guardian too, but on this particular morning, the team is also just hours away from a deadline for new donor budget.

Before that, the editor-in-chief and news editor will have a conference call with a web metrics company to try to nail down the software we need to provide our funders with kind of measurements they want. Out on the floor, our reporters are working on narrative features, setting up appointments with people in the field and reading the pages of peer-reviewed research that they'll cite in their stories.

But they’re also sourcing quotes for promotional materials, juggling speaking engagements and sending out invites to our latest policy event. Someone is dashing off to live tweet the latest announcement on the National Health Insurance, and our news editor is working on an analysis from the desk. The next few hours are a mix of writing, editing, and social media scheduling and monitoring before the day finishes.

It’s not your typical day in a typical newsroom, but it is an average day in a donor-funded one.

In a new article by Bhekisisa director Mia Malan and published in the journal of African Journalism Studies, she reflects on how donor-funding can help newsrooms reach new levels of impact and grow new audiences. But it also changes how newsrooms and reporters work.

Access the article here.

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