Harnessing the Power of Participatory Journalism in the Age of Misinformation: A Deep Dive into ACTIVATE! – By Ramadimetja Makgeru

Theme: Democracy and participatory (citizen) journalism, Mis/disinformation and fact checking, Media literacy, Multimedia and social media storytelling, Media and Society (positionality in the South African context).

Synopsis: In an era where misinformation spreads rapidly, citizen journalism becomes ever crucial. This article will explore how ACTIVATE! empowers young individuals, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to counter false narratives and promote genuine stories from the grassroots. Weaving in elements of media literacy, multimedia storytelling, and the significance of positionality in the South African context, the piece will underscore the transformative power of informed and active youth in shaping a democratic narrative.

Harnessing the Power of Participatory Journalism in the Age of Misinformation: A Deep Dive into ACTIVATE! – By Ramadimetja Makgeru

“Hayi bo! Fake news, again?” That’s the shout from the street corners of Soweto to the spaza shops of Khayelitsha. In the age where every Tom, Dick, and Sipho can be a journalist through their smartphones, the truth often gets lost in the mix. But in these very streets, amidst the shebeens and vibrant taxi ranks, ACTIVATE! is creating a stir. Through young people, for young people. Let’s take it back to the roots and explore how.

Our Stories, Our Voices
You see, in the townships, stories aren’t just stories. They’re the beat of our culture, the laughter of our children, and the resilience of our youth. Participatory journalism is more than just the latest trend here; it’s a lifeline connecting our struggles, dreams, and daily victories. ACTIVATE! has been the mentor we never knew we needed. They’ve been in our shoes, walked our streets, and they’re showing young reporters from every kasi that their voice has power.

Chasing Truth in the Age of WhatsApp Forwards
Growing up, I learnt early that not everything you hear at the hair salon or from the uncle selling atchar is the gospel truth. Today’s fake news is the modern version of these tall tales. While we laugh at some, others can tear our communities apart. ACTIVATE! isn’t just teaching us to tell our stories; they’re showing us how to weave fact with narrative. Remember that time when a local girl from Mamelodi debunked a false story about xenophobic attacks through a simple video report? That’s ACTIVATE! in action.

From Gqom Beats to Digital Narratives
In a world of Amapiano challenges and TikTok trends, storytelling has taken a new face. Our youth are remixing tradition with technology, and ACTIVATE! is dropping the beat. Through workshops in the very heart of our communities, they’re turning smartphone videos into powerful narratives and tweets into mobilising forces.

Every Corner, Every Voice
Our South Africa is rich, not just in minerals, but in diversity. From the Zulu traditional dances in KZN to the Xhosa tales in the Eastern Cape, every story matters. ACTIVATE! gets this. When they train, they don’t just speak to the masses; they connect with each individual, ensuring every corner of our townships and every voice in our streets finds a home.

Here’s the Real Deal
It’s been a trip, right? But here’s the bottom line. With misinformation on the rise, we need platforms and programmes like ACTIVATE! that root us in truth and empower our voices, not just for the tweets and likes but for the real change in our society.

So, my brother and my sister, the next time you have a story itching to be told or hear something that doesn’t quite add up, pick up that phone, chase the truth, and be the change. And to all the readers out there, let’s make it a thing: the next time you’re in the taxi, and someone shares a ‘juicy’ piece of news, challenge it, question it, and let’s build a nation founded on truth.

Awuthi ngithi “Phambili!” (Let’s move forward!) – Let’s own our narratives, shaping them with pride, truth, and authenticity.

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About the author:

Ramadimetja is a freelance writer deeply committed to social justice. She uses her writing as a form of activism to amplify the voices of grassroots leaders and community members. She aims to produce insightful and thought-provoking work, often shedding light on underrepresented issues and challenges facing marginalised communities.

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