How South Africa is Preparing for the Digital Age and Changing their News Narrative

The purpose of the Cape Town-based Regency Global company and its SA INC

video series is to combat the negative news narrative in South Africa. The video

series uses a documentary style to tell the stories of South African corporations that

are doing social good and the eight episodes from their first season have recently

finished airing on local television channels. As an intern at Regency, I have spent the

past two months assisting them with shoots, editing videos and developing social

media promotion for their second season of SA INC.


As a former print journalist and recent graduate of USC Annenberg, I am

familiar with the public’s perception of negative news and its prevalence in

mainstream media. While it’s true that for American news coverage there is a

barrage of bad news, programs like ABC World News Tonight make an effort to save

the final segment of their show for a positive “Person of the Week” story about

individuals who have done outstanding deeds.


Even so, I still get questions about why news stations and media outlets don’t

cover more good news and feedback about the psychological effect that too much

negative news has on an audience. But I have never seen such a strong concern with

this issue as I have in South Africa. During a shoot in Johannesburg, Regency’s

creative director Shani Kay spoke with me about how the impact of the negative

news narrative often creates a feeling of hopelessness and mistrust between the

general people and bodies of government, law enforcement and corporations.

In the mornings this past summer, I did my best to read local newspapers for

current events and the common headlines I would see involved shootings, robberies

and murders. I was even able to take a trip to a high school in Cape Town’s Mbkweni

township to ask students what they thought about South Africa’s news coverage. In

a classroom of around 30 students, all agreed that their local news outlets and

stations focus solely on negative news, particularly about the corruption within

their country’s politics and government.

Even in a global context, the media’s perception of the continent of Africa as a

whole is mainly negative, consisting heavily of stories about life-threatening

diseases and images of starving children.


Therefore, it is the mission of Regency Global and SA INC to change this by

sharing the stories of corporations that are creating opportunities for disadvantaged

people to attain scholarships, employment and business expansion. The company is

also striving to make this content widely available to audiences around the globe by

tailoring it to fit digital platforms.

For the first season, one episode of SA INC would feature two 12-minute

stories, each about one South African corporation doing social good. Regency also

edits five-minute and one-minute versions of these videos to post on social media

for promotion. This means making further cuts and modifications to the script of the

12-minute video while still maintaining the same message and cohesive storyline as

the original. This strategy of producing additional videos that are shorter than the

original episodes is an important task to Regency because a full 12-minute video

would not attract the attention of users on social media platforms.


Regency has a Facebook and Instagram page to share videos about their

upcoming SA INC episodes and other content. These pages are where their shorter

videos live since users are more likely to consume content that’s easily viewable and

not lengthy.

One of my most important tasks at Regency was helping to re-write the

scripts for the social media videos. My last project with the company involved

making 15-second videos for the social media promotion of season two after

Regency’s production and digital marketing team researched the user-engagement

on Facebook and Instagram and discovered that audiences on those platforms only

watched the first 10 to 15 seconds of previous videos they have posted before

moving on to the next post.

Although it is challenging to create a significantly shorter version of a

feature-length video, Regency’s junior editor and I would do so by selecting a standout

character in these stories and using their narrative to tell a small, but intriguing

piece of the bigger picture.

In addition to this, Regency’s film crew also has still photographs taken of

subjects during their shoots, which I have taken in the two months that I’ve interned

for them. These photos are used for social media promotion as well.

With so much content to post, it was also necessary for me to take the time to

work on crafting a calendar to keep track of a posting schedule for all videos, photos

and articles and which pages they are supposed to go on.

Since I have spent time working for both Regency’s production team and

digital marketing team, I have come to understand that in today’s digital age any

kind of company that creates filmed content cannot fully operate without an

understanding of how to make their work engaging on social media as well. My time

with Regency has taught me that platforms like Instagram and Twitter are

incredibly valuable tools in the media industry if they are used strategically and

thoughtfully. By utilizing these techniques, Regency and SA INC can continue their

mission to share the good that is being done in South Africa.


Alexandra Chan

Alex recently graduated from USC with a masters in Journalism. She’s specifically interested in writing about topics that relate to cultural and racial identity. Her interest towards foreign reporting sparked her to get a masters at Annenberg School of Journalism.