24 Feb 2017
THISABILITY Newspaper was started and registered as a non-profit media platform 6 years ago in 2011 by Anthony Cuerden and Simon Manda. Initially they had two other directors, Bonga Khoza and Musa Zulu.
One of the newspapers first funders was the Office of the Premier in KZN. It was with this and the Directors’ direct funding that the newspaper was able to print and deliver their first issues. Other advertisers like the Dept. of Sports and Recreation and smaller suppliers of services and equipment to the disability sector helped the paper run and create an online version. This meant that a certain sector could still read the paper if funds were not available for a printed paper.
THISABILITY Newspaper was initially aimed at people with disabilities and their caregivers. The content is reported and written only from a positive aspect. Our objective is to motivate and inspire our readers to look outward and not inward, too see what they can find and not, in many cases, what they may have lost. Over the years a very strong and positive response has come from the disabled and the non-disabled sector, with non-disabled people learning more of the day-to-day challenges many people face, thus gaining respect and admiration for the personal growth that many have achieved.
The content is aimed at mainstreaming disability in all socio-economic platforms of society and stories are drawn from South Africa, sub Saharan Africa and the rest of the world to showcase good practises, stories of hope and various initiatives that empower persons with disability to actively participate in various environments.
The paper has, over the years, run programmes and partnered with various NPOs and organisations such as Casual Day, Miss Deaf SA, Diabetes South Africa, DPSA, Media24 and KEY Foundation to name a few. Internationally, we have worked with JICA (the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and SAFOD (the Southern African Federation of Disability Organisations – an umbrella body of a network of federations for disability in ten Southern African countries).
Previously, Rose and Kemp, a law firm, donated 30 computers and printers to create a computer centre at Mason Lincoln Special School in Umlazi and over the years, year we have partnered with Tributes – celebrating inspirational women with disabilities from around South Africa.
The MDDA first funded the paper in 2012 and this created more reliability in the print and distribution. Because the newspaper goes to dozens of destinations countrywide, the courier costs often outweigh the print costs – so we are always sourcing unique ways to improve the paper’s penetration into rural areas and new readership.
To this end, networking with other NPOs has become important. We would give an NPO some newspaper space to promote and advertise their services and the NPO concerned would deliver to outlying clinics and schools previously not on the newspapers database. This approach has meant that the paper is now distributed to over 200 destinations bimonthly.
THISABILITY got their second funding in 2017 and this has enabled it to improve both print quality and distribution services. There is now a satellite office in Pretoria – to improve relationships and cover the economic hub of Gauteng effectively.
Durban and Pietermaritzburg remain the main distribution points in KZN and MDDA funding has enabled a steady flow of distribution to our main focus areas of the earlier mentioned distribution points and a penetration into Soweto, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
We believe our Newspaper has been able to grow in all sorts of directions directly through the funding from the MDDA. The funding has a huge impact on consistent printing, distribution, logistical issues, administration and stipends for the staff.
The newspaper has managed to undertake a project with Media24 to train six contributors who work as freelancers for the paper annually. In its second year, the program ensures the covering of stories on disability from various places around South Africa and the rest of the world.
Simon has been developing the social media component, that has seen the growth of the emailer going to over 8 000 recipients per issue. Print is steadily at 10 000 copies a month and is widely distributed to targeted audiences in four main cities and DPSA (Disabled People of South Africa) assisting in distributing 1500 issues to all their satellite offices in all provinces of South Africa.
The word ‘DIVERSITY’ in the MDDA’s name is just as important as the words MEDIA and DEVELOPMENT. The newspaper readership encompasses the diversity of reach plus inclusion of vulnerable populations which have been side-lined by mainstream media.
Without the ability to look around and follow world trends in media development, we would not be giving the public or our benefactors any value for money.
As they say in Afrikaans…’kyk voor jou – ons sal agter jou kyk.’ (look ahead of you – we shall look after you!)