What is Bhekisisa?
The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism is an independent media organisation that specialises in narrative, solutions journalism focusing on health and social justice issues across Africa. Our stories are distributed through News24, the Daily Maverick and the Mail & Guardian and reach policymakers, academics, activists and political leaders, often resulting in shifts in policy, setting national agendas and defining conversations. Trained in evidence-based journalism, our reporters and editors use peer-reviewed journal studies and reliable statistics to support the narratives in our stories. As a donor-funded journalism centre, we also host media trainings for journalists and civil society, as well as public discussion forums on health issues, that bring together policymakers and specialist audiences. One of Bhekisisa’s objectives is to create a new generation of health journalists in South Africa. We offer reporters extensive mentoring in writing and interpreting science to prepare them for a career in health journalism. We are very proud that all the journalists who started off with us, and have moved onto other publications, have continued to practise health journalism.
Bhekisisa, isiZulu for “to scrutinise”, started off as the Mail & Guardian’s health desk in 2013. When we left the Mail & Guardian in July 2019 to become an independent organisation, we were the newspaper’s largest specialist desk with seven full-time staff members. Between 2013 and 2019, the publication’s online readership for health stories grew 35-fold and our staff won 35 African journalism awards, including the Discovery Health Journalist of the Year (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018), the overall winner of the Standard Bank Sikuvile Newspaper Journalist of the Year (2015), the CNN African Features Journalist of the Year (2016), the Standard Bank Sikuvile Features (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018) and The Standard Bank Sikuvile Columns/Editorial Journalist of the Year (2018). Today, we have nine full-time staff members, two consultants and 10 freelance journalists from across the continent. Most of Bhekisisa’s funding comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but we also receive support from the Open Society Foundations’ public health programme, the Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Fund and Global Health Strategies. We also generate income through newsletter advertising, sponsored events and moderating events. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alastair Otter has more than 20 years of journalism experience spanning both print and digital publications, and has more than 10 years of experience as a developer focused on producing media-related online products. He. specialises in data visualisation and the development of online media products at Media Hack Collective.