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SALGA pilots a Local Government News Agency ahead of its 2016 National Conference

Posted: 25 November 2016


The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has for the first time instituted a high powered news agency on behalf of local governments in South Africa. The agency is to be piloted at the upcoming 2016 SALGA National Conference which is taking place next week, 28 November – 1 December 2016.

The Local Government News Agency is a 22 member newsroom operated by nine SALGA Provincial and National Communicators, nine media trainees, the editor who will oversee the flow of content. The team will be divided into various categories and beats, some will act as reporters, photographers, while others will focus on multimedia and social media which is becoming a highly contested space. The output of the news agency will be conference bulletins, online news, social media content, media releases and knowledge products.

The SALGA National Conference is the highest decision-making structure and brings together mayors, city managers, and chief financial officers from 257 municipalities under one roof. It is held every five years in terms of the SALGA Constitution and will elect the new National Executive Committee to serve in the new local government term 2017 – 2022.

Head of Communication, Tahir Sema, says that the agency will: “produce informative and newsworthy stories to enhance the general profile of SALGA and local government. But most importantly, it will serve to inform and educate the public and members about the good story of local government. This will give rise to an alternative narrative, one that is beneficial to local government projects.”

The main aim of the news agency, says Sema, “is to tell the good stories of local government and to profile some of their disruptive innovations”.

SALGA’s marketing and communication officer in the Northern Cape, Thotoane Shale, says the news agency should “heighten ongoing efforts to profile local government. There is so much happening in the local government space which you don’t see in the mainstream media. We need to be able to tell our own story to inform the 52 million South Africa’s who will not necessary have access to the national conference”.

Shale says that the conference will see high profile individuals such as the President, mayors and councilors, “just that experience of being around key role players and key decision makers in local government means a lot to her, and also for the trainee journalists”.

Editor of the SALGA Local Government News Agency Meli Ncube is keen to see the pilot succeed. He sees it as a challenge to manage a newsroom but strongly believes he has a capable team by his side. Ncube says that although it is a stressful endeavor, with just under four days until the conference, it is positive that the team will pull this one off and inspire better service delivery for the sector.

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