After eight months online, Seychelles News Agency announces opportunities for young writers
The Seychelles News Agency website that has reached 191,000 users worldwide in 8 months is starting a mentorship programme in February 2015 to encourage more Seychellois journalists and would-be journalists to start freelancing for the news service. (Seyhelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Launched in April 2014, the Seychelles News Agency is celebrating its eighth month in operation with a project aimed at improving home-grown journalism talents within the Indian Ocean archipelago of 90,000 inhabitants.
To respond to its high demand for good quality news and feature articles about the Seychelles islands, the news service has started the new year with a drive to encourage more Seychellois journalists and aspiring writers to start freelancing for the agency's website, which has reached 191,000 users worldwide in more than 100 countries in 8 months.
In February this year, SNA plans to start a journalism mentorship programme for young people who wish to test the waters of the world of news reporting and feature writing.
If successful in the programme, they will be able to work on a freelance basis for the agency. The mentorship is open to Seychellois applicants who are 17 years old and above who have good writing skills in English or French.
Applicants can contact the editors via this link to receive the requirements and selection procedures.
Experienced journalists working in the Seychelles media are also encouraged to get in contact with the agency editors to propose story ideas.
These activities will be funded by the agency's Journalism Promotion Fund, which is financed by advertising revenues generated from the SNA website.
|The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Paul Adam pictured after unveiling the Seychelles News Agency website at the Kempinski Hotel at Baie Lazare on April 22, 2014. (Mervyn Marie, Seyhelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
191,000 users worldwide in 8 months
191,421 unique users have visited the Seychelles News agency website in the eight months since its inception, with majority being in the USA (45,242), followed by the Seychelles (28,660), UK (19,712), France (16,179), India (8,105), Australia (6,895), Canada (6,002) and South Africa (4,726).
The site has approximately 3,500 page views a day, with maximums reaching up to 8,000 page views in a day.
|The top 20 countries by users. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Comments from users
The news agency has received many messages of encouragement during its first year, especially from Seychellois living overseas who had previously not had much online access to information about what was happening back home.
“For someone living outside of Seychelles, it not only keeps me connected to the actualities of the day on the ground at home but it also shows how as a small country we are fast evolving with time, media outreach and other socio-economic developments,” said the UN World Tourism Organization Director for Africa, Seychellois Elsia Grandcourt, in an email from Madrid where she is based.
“Well done Seychelles for setting up such an informative website, it makes it easy for those abroad to be kept well informed,” said Hans Ernestine, a reader living in the United Kingdom.
A growing team in 2015
The online news provider currently has two co-editors, Rassin Vannier for the French service and Sharon Uranie for the English service, and they are joined this week by the newly-appointed Deputy Editor for the English service, Hajira Amla, who was previously freelancing for the agency as a writer and editor.
The first online news agency service of the Indian Ocean nation was launched by Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Paul Adam and the Honorary Consul of Seychelles in Bulgaria Maxim Behar in the margin of the biennial meeting of Seychelles honorary consuls on April 22, 2014.
Behar, the owner and manager of a leading PR and Social Media corporation M3 Communications Group, Inc, is the one who initiated and financed the concept and software development for the website and he described the launching as 'making history' for Seychelles.
The Seychelles News Agency writes for a global audience and is tasked with the mission to create awareness of the Seychelles and its people in the global community, and position Seychelles regionally and internationally as a Small Island Developing State with a unique experience of social, economic and cultural development.
The Seychelles islands are an archipelago of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean with a population of 90,000 people.
|SNA's Co- Editors Rassin Vannier (first left) and Sharon Uranie (centre), Seychelles Honorary Consul in Bulgaria Maxim Behar (second left), Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Paul Adam (second from right) and Srdjana Janosevic (first right) after the launch of the Seychelles News Agency website on Tuesday April 22, at Kempinski Hotel. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
A new generation of Seychellois voices
For Amla, the mentorship programme is an ideal opportunity to encourage the development of a new generation of young writers in Seychelles.
"As a small island nation, Seychelles is often faced with human resource constraints in many sectors, and the fast-growing field of online media is no exception," she said. "At SNA, our focus on relevant, in-depth journalism that is attractive to an international audience means that we must continually be on the lookout for new writers who can skilfully and accurately paint a picture of Seychelles on the world's stage."
Writing is an art form, Amla believes, and empowering young people with the skill to write is just one of the ways SNA is providing new opportunities for the youth.
"Writing is a skill that can be developed in many people, and it often becomes a lifelong passion," she explains. "Irrespective of what you are studying, improving your writing and communications skills with freelance writing can have a far-reaching positive effect on the development of your chosen career path."
For Uranie, it is hoped that the mentorship programme will breed interest in young people who would like to write and contribute articles and feature stories to the news agency website so that it can continue providing a good service especially to get people to know more about what is happening in Seychelles as getting people to contribute articles has been one of the main challenge so far.
“It has been a challenging - and at times stressful - but exciting year as the news agency was a totally new project. But generally we have been able to achieve our objective to deliver timely, accurate, fair and balanced reports for our readership,” she said
“The response has been very good and the team has had good cooperation with people in Seychelles as well as overseas who have provided interviews for interesting stories that have been published online over the past eight months.”
Uranie noted that the readers have not been passive, taking the opportunity to interact by commenting freely on news stories posted via social media and on the website, something which the team has taken constructively as a means of motivation and to strive to improve on the service that is offered to the readers.