WWMP is a non-profit organisation that specialises in developing democratic mass media and organisational platforms nationally and in several local communities that focus on socio-economic and political issues that affect them. Its activities include mass media productions, education and training and organising support for trade unions and working-class communities.
WWMP was started in 1997, after a group of labour service organisations (LSOs) and NGOs recognised the need for alternative community mass media that addressed the needs of poor and working class people. At the time community radio stations flourished and were present in over 100 poor black communities. Most CR stations had, and still do have challenges of their role and content due to political and resource limitations. Originally, we positioned ourselves as a non-profit labour media production house working in a democratic partnership with the trade union movement. Since then (2010) we have transformed ourselves towards having a community orientation with a bias towards the poorest and most marginalised communities and groups, mainly unemployed/ underemployed women in supporting them in developing their democratic organisations and representing their own interests in 16 communities and with four vulnerable groups of workers (community healthcare workers -CHW’s, waste-pickers/recyclers, farmworkers and ex-mineworkers and their widows. All these groups now take up their issues with authorities but still rely still on WWMP for support.
We do this through grassroots mass media development, education and training and organising support. Our mass media platforms include weekly shows 30 community radio and TV channels nationally, online print media and video documentary inserts via social media. Our successes include a two decades long broadcast partnership with up to 40 CR stations and SAFM (lapsed), the establishment of Cape Town TV (CTV) with a weekly 1-hour long live show, broadcast on DSTV with high audience numbers, Elitsha community newspaper, a campaign against violence against women in the mining industry that resulted in the conviction of the perpetrator responsible for the brutal rape and murder of Binky Mosiane after the case had gone cold for 18 months, a feature length documentary film, “Freedom Isn’t Free” that won international plaudits and awards and has been regularly broadcast on ENCA since 2019.
Cross-cutting themes for all our media, movement building and education/ training work
- Civic life and democratic participation
- Gender and women’s oppression
- Livelihoods, jobs and vulnerable/precarious work/workers
- Occupational and community health and safety
- The environmental crisis
- Discrimination – racism, xenophobia and homophobia.
The state of media and journalism
We are concerned with the state of journalism, both in South Africa and internationally. We have seen increased media monopolies, the corrosion of good investigative reporting and the downgrading of industrial and labour reporting.
In South Africa, we have seen pro-government media bias from the state broadcaster, as well as the establishment of new print media that pushes the government line. At the same time, press freedom is being eroded, with the proposed Protection of State Information Bill – the “Secrecy Bill”. This legislation would allow the state to prosecute journalists who publish information it would prefer to see covered up for reasons of “national security”. Given the fragile state of South African democracy, especially after the Marikana massacre, this is a worrying development indeed.
Similar increased hostility towards media and journalists are to be found in various parts of the world and reflects the fear of those in power towards the free-flow of information relating to injustice and inequality. At the time of writing this report, four Al Jazeera reporters were still being detained by the military junta in Egypt there and accused of supporting a terrorist organisation, presumably the toppled from power, Muslim Brotherhood party.
In addition to providing an alternative media source for working class people, we work to broaden access to politics and media. We provide training and support in media production, so that trade unionists and working class organisations can make their own media. Our Mass Education Campaign empowers people to question the narratives offered to them by the mainstream media.
Our education and media work is also aimed at building and strengthening much needed grassroots organisation and leadership – at workplaces and within local communities and to build political and organisational bridges between these two terrains of working class life and struggles.
To reach as wide an audience as possible, we work in partnership with community radio stations with accountable structures, trade unions and labour service organisations.
- To provide a wide range of media accessible and relevant to working class people in South Africa and internationally.
- To train trade unionists and community members in the use of the media.
- To improve the use of media and information for the building of working class organisation.
Regional and International Work
WWMP has extensive experience in developing and co- ordinating regional and international projects such as the successful Africa Labour Community Media Project that involved a partnership with 12 trade union centres from Anglophone countries and ITUC Africa. The project included supplying partners with media production equipment, providing training and resulted in 6 partners initiating and sustaining their own weekly labour radio shows on national and community radio stations. Currently we are supporting the development of the education capacity of Mozambique’s trade union federations and the Swaziland United Democratic Front’s (SUDF) media capacity.
The Labour Community Media Project (LCMP)
The project contributes to the promotion and protection of human and labour rights by strengthening the organising capacity and building media platforms of poor communities, trade unions and vulnerable workers in South Africa to take up their own interests and enjoy freedom of expression.
The project ensures the raising of the target groups’ political awareness and increased commitment to building strong democratic organisations within 20 local communities and with groups of precarious workers in which women play a central role based on principles of unity, independence, democracy and non-discrimination through mass education, training, organisational support and media development.
At the heart of our strategy to meet our objectives are two pillars, namely, Labour Community Media Forums (LCMFs) and The People’s Media Consortium (PMC).
Labour Community Media Forums (LCMFs)
Together with partners and project participants we initiated the development of LCMFs in 2011. They are located in poor working-class communities and consist of unemployed youth, vulnerable/informal workers, trade union shop-stewards and community activists. Currently there are 16 well established LCMFs that meet fortnightly to discuss socio-economic and political issues that affect them. They are essentially democratic organising, mass education and media platforms and consist of 20 – 30 regular participants with provincial and national co- ordinating structures. Covid-19 has disrupted their activities but most of them were exemplary in organising to spread COVID-19 information and assist with food security in their communities. Women make up the majority of the participants but not the leadership yet.
The People’s Media Consortium (PMC)
We initiated the PMC in 2019 and it now consists of 12 NGO and trade union partners. Its purpose is to ensure closer co- operation between the partners in movement building and mass media development. The consortium partners all have a positive track record of social justice campaigns. They bring in expertise such as research, popular education, new innovative ways of organising, especially new groups of vulnerable workers and mass media production focused on various spheres of life including environmental issues, gender oppression, HIV & Aids, labour rights, collective bargaining with employers and government, education rights, community development and addressing the social and environmental degradation caused by industries and government such as in mining.
During 2021 the PMC embarked on an ambitious programme of mass media development that aims to integrate the new technologies and social media available to produce our own stories for TV, radio and publications. This will be done with the use of smartphones or mobile journalism (MOJO) and Over the Top Television (OTT) in partnership with Cape Town TV (CTV). OTT will include the development of multiple TV channels and “broadcasting” on and via the Internet to cell-phones to thousands and hopefully millions who will access it on demand. Already we have completed the MOJO courses and partners are producing their video documentaries using their recently acquired equipment and supported by WWMP.