DA launches new interactive website

On Monday, the DA launched a new online initiative – The Silent Majority. It makes use of video (many thanks to MyVideo for providing us with a customised player), photographs and sound recordings to tell stories about the real life impact of policy decisions and implementation (or lack thereof). As you can read on the site’s ‘About’ page, it is “designed to bring to the fore stories and issues concerning those South Africans who do not usually have a voice in the mainstream media.”

Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the US Congress between 1977 and 1987, once famously said “All politics is local.” The Silent Majority seeks to illustrate that by telling local stories about the lives and experiences of people on the ground, rather than just looking at national politics, the ANC or the government.

It is this gap, between the national and the local, between the general and the specific, and between the promises and the practical reality, that The Silent Majority will explore.”

The first story: SA’s collapsing waste management infrastructure
In a way, the story we have launched with is quite atypical. It focuses on infrastructure, rather than people (although collapsing infrastructure has the potential to make a catastrophic impact on people’s lives – the typhoid outbreak in Delmas in September 2005 was a case in point).

More specifically, it tells the story of the Percy Stewart Water Care Works in Mogale City (Krugersdorp), on the West Rand of Gauteng – an example and a metaphor for South Africa’s broader infrastructural challenges.

Bringing stories to life.

As you will see from the first story, we try to report as dispassionately as possible – just setting out the facts as we find them. We let the pictures and videos bring the story to life. Barry Sergeant, who called our first report “a fitting launch story for a new DA investigative website”, has taken a much more strident approach to the same content on his Moneyweb blog, “Fear and loathing”.

Solving it

The Silent Majority is not just about telling the stories. The DA intends to take up the issues raised in the stories and help resolve the problems highlighted. While the site will only have a new report about once every three to four weeks, it also has a blog for more regular updates on the stories we’ve published. Already, you can read about a resolution tabled by DA councillor Kobus de Beer and adopted by the West Rand District Council following our investigation.

The user adds value.

Besides the usual avenues of commenting on reports and/or blog posts, we’ve added another feature to crowdsource further material for our reports. Through a collaboration with RedZebra Mobile, we invite users to take pictures and send them to us using their mobile phones. Photos will be linked to the report to which they are relevant. If they’re not relevant to any current story, perhaps they’ll give us a good lead on our next one.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear from you. What do you think of The Silent Majority? If you like it, please share it. If you don’t, please tell us how it could be improved.


3 Responses to “DA launches new interactive website”

  1. 1 Tristan 5 March 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Congrats Anthony, the site is looking great! I’ve enjoyed the videos, they are interesting and informative. Looking forward to watching this grow and develop 🙂

  2. 2 Silent One 5 March 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Silent majority denies any association with the DA. The DA are a bunch of copy cats and talentless losers.

  3. 3 ahazell 6 March 2008 at 10:46 am

    @Tristan: Thanks for the positive feedback.

    @Silent One: Thank you so much for distancing your blog from the DA. We would hate anyone to think that the DA had anything to do with your puerile and racist histrionics.

    My only regret about having such a similar domain to yours (and we would have to have heard of your blog in order to be copy cats) is that some people might accidentally visit your site when intending to find ours. Unfortunately, the similarity is to your benefit, and to the detriment of those who accidentally visit your blog and read your bile.

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