ZANEWS: Newsmaker of the year

On Wednesday, November 24, in Braamfontein’s Alexander Theatre, ZANEWS received one of 11 highly prestigious honours at the Financial Mail’s annual AdFocus Awards.

ZANEWS was chosen by a judging panel of South Africa’s marketing and advertising leaders to receive the Newsmaker of the Year award.

But there were more awards for ZANEWS. On November 18 in Cape Town, show producers Both Worlds had already been honoured twice at the Digital Media and Marketing Association’s 2010 Bookmark Awards annual festival.

Both Worlds received two highly-coveted Bookmark Award trophies: one Gold Pixel for Best Video Programming among South Africa’s publishers and one Bronze Pixel for Best Online Video among agencies for the Chicken to Change music video produced in collaboration with Freshlyground.

This year’s Bookmark Awards festival honoured the best of over 400 entries from 42 agencies and 32 publishers in 43 award categories. Both Worlds was one of the top contenders at this year’s Bookmarks as a finalist in five categories:

  • Best online video
  • Best specialist digital publisher
  • Best mixed-media project
  • Best use of video/audio
  • Best blog

Thierry Cassuto, MD of Both Worlds and Executive Producer of ZANEWS, said “We are extremely proud of our team’s work, which stands out among the best in South Africa. Our pioneering work in the digital space was honoured and deemed ‘world class’ by two international panels of judges in publisher and agency categories.”

In 2009, when the pilot programme for ZANEWS was lost in the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s bureaucracy, Both Worlds began to pursue all possible ways to bring its fresh, provocative, satirical comedy to SA audiences via new media. Why? Because Cassuto and co-creator Zapiro believe “South Africa is ready for this” and that “here [in the emerging digital universe] we can.”

Cassuto told the Mail and Guardian that the award “came as a total surprise”.

“I think it’s a very special award. Our work is newsworthy, but we do not tell the news; we leave that to serious journalists. We entertain, add perspective, make the audience laugh.”

But he added that ZANEWS had an important role to play in the news landscape.

“If we can laugh about it, we can think about it. We have no holy cows.”

ZANEWS is enjoyed by tens of thousands of fans daily on, YouTube (now as South Africa’s #1 channel), and is also distributed and shared on Facebook, Twitter, TimesLive, M&G Online, SowetanLive, Cape Town TV, Summit TV, as well as on two special edition volumes released on DVDs nationwide.

Cassuto emphasised that the award “vindicated” their decision to produce a satirical show.

“We have felt for ages that people want to laugh. They want to take politicians off their pedestals. Everyone thought we would get in trouble. Whatever the SABC said, they were wrong.

Cassuto hoped that the award would make marketing of the show a little easier, “It’s great to be recognised. It would be useful to find more marketers and advertisers. This sort of thing is hard to fund, and maybe, with this behind our name, we can walk into a boardroom and bee seen as a serious contender.”

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Lisa Van Wyk
Lisa van Wyk is the arts editor, which somehow justifies her looking at pretty pictures all day, reading cool art and culture blogs and having the messiest desk in the office. She likes people who share her passion for art, music, food, wine, travel and all things Turkish. She can't ride a bike, but she can read ancient languages and totally understands the offside rule.

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