Roving Reporters is a journalism training agency focused on environmental, social and justice issues.
To help make the planet a better place for nature and people.
To create an independent, sustainable and well-resourced platform for aspiring and established environmental writers with a keen nose for environmental news.
To offer on-the-job experience in training competent and committed environmental journalists in reporting on vital environmental issues in Southern Africa.
In a democracy, decision makers should seek the greatest public good. In South Africa their choices often focus on the need for transformation, growth, job-creation and a better environment. But these aims are sometimes in conflict and decisions are often based on distorted or false perceptions. Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant and Roving Reporters plays a role in illuminating the facts and giving a voice to people most affected by these decisions. This is especially important when government and NGO leaders are reluctant or constrained from speaking openly about pressing environmental problems. In addition to you, our readers and social media followers, our audience includes government and NGO decision-makers, directors of corporates and editors of media outlets.
Journalists are trained to answer six key questions:
Who, What, Where, When Why, and How.
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>> Click here to view our Theory of Change
Since 2011 we have trained and mentored more than 25 young journalists, mostly from rural or township communities. Nearly all our trainees have landed their first by-lines in established media titles while working on Roving Reporters assignments. In several instance these have been front-page lead stories. Most of have since found employment in the media industry. Two have become award-winning journalists.
More than a dozen Durban University of Technology journalism students have completed the formal work-integrated learning component of their diplomas by serving six-month internships with Roving Reporters. Our training programme has also catered for students from Varsity College, Rosebank College, City Varsity and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s media studies department. Two international interns, Izze Siemann, a McGill University environmental science and English literature honours student, and Luke Riley, a political science and communication student at the University of Maryland in the US, have also benefited from our training.
Until 2017, Roving Reporters stories were mostly published by Independent Newspapers media titles in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2017, we began producing regular stories for GroundUp, resulting in republication across a wide variety of local and national media titles. We are also now regular correspondents for Daily Maverick and Mongabay.com – an international environmental science news site with 350 million monthly users worldwide.
Our Ocean Watch series was initiated with the support of the Human Elephant Foundation and the Blue Fund – a joint marine conservation initiative of Wildlands (now the WildTrust) and Grindrod Bank. This series focuses on critical issues affecting the health of our oceans and promotes worthy initiatives in the marine conservation sector. Stories arising from our Ocean Watch series have been published across many titles, including Sunday Tribune, Daily News, the Mercury, Sunday Independent, The Witness, GroundUp, AllAfrica.com, Daily Maverick, News24, South Africa Today, All4Africa Women, Engineering News, Bizcommunity, and UCT online.
Thin Green Line
Our Thin Green Line series focuses on the loss of green infrastructure, the pollution of river catchments and water sources, and biodiversity loss – a critical concern to scientists, conservation managers, government agencies and environmental NGOs.
Roving Reporters Game Changers series
We introduced Roving Reporters Game Changers series in association with the Sunday Tribune in 2018. The initiative fell off Independent Newspapers’ radar during a restructuring process. We are engaging with other publications to re-introduce the initiative as an online series that profiles people who deserve recognition for the work they are doing in the environmental sector. While initially focused on people living and working on KwaZulu’s Natal South Coast, the long-term view is to roll the project out nationally.
Developing Environmental Watchdogs
Our environmental journalism training programme arose from our reporting on the case of 57-year-old Makotikoti Zikhali, who was sentenced to five years’ jail in 2011 for killing an endangered loggerhead turtle in the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site. The story highlighted how an impoverished community felt excluded from decisions around the world heritage site, and how the ‘turtle butcher’ had turned to the muthi (traditional medicine) trade after a lifetime of itinerant labour and retrenchments in KZN and Jo’burg.
This Taco-Kuiper Trust sponsored investigation sparked the Makotikoti Arts Project convened in association with the Andries Botha Foundation. Through this project Makotikoti was mentored in making limited edition turtle sculptures in aid of environmental education. The project scooped top honours at the Mail&Guardian Greening the Future Awards in 2014, won the best stand for education and training at the 2015 Durban Sustainable Living Festival, and a silver Enviropedia Eco-Logic Award in 2016. Capacity constraints brought turtle sculpture production and sales came to a standstill in late 2016. The African Conservation Trust has expressed interest in reviving the project. Watch this space.
Roving Reporters was registered as a Closed Corporation in 2010. Founding director, Fred Kockott is the sole member.
An advisory committee comprising leading representatives on the media and environmental sector helps guide the development of our training programme.
Governance and oversight
The Human Elephant Foundation, an NPO registered in 1999, provides financial support for Roving Reporters environmental journalism training programme by soliciting funding from other trusts and sponsors and awarding matching grants on a project basis. In terms of a memorandum of understanding with the Human Elephant Foundation, grant funding awarded to the development of Roving Reporters training initiative: Developing Environmental Watchdogs, is held by the foundation and released in tranches as per approved project budgets.
Roving Reporters has from the outset been able to generate revenue from its stories and commissioned contracts, but is largely dependent on funding to cover core project management and training costs
Signed annual financial statements are available on request.
For further information about Roving Reporters services contact Fred Kockott at +27 (0)83 277 8907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.