Rhodes JMS mourns the death of alumnus and digital pioneer Matthew Buckland

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Rhodes JMS alumnus Matthew Buckland with his wife, Bridget
Rhodes JMS alumnus Matthew Buckland with his wife, Bridget

The School of Journalism and Media Studies (JMS) at Rhodes University extends its deep condolences to the family of Matthew Buckland who passed away on Monday 23nd April. Matthew graduated from Rhodes University in 1996, with a rare triple major in Journalism and Media Studies, History and Philosophy. He was always proud of his association with the University, where both his father, Professor Andrew Buckland and mother, Janet Buckland, have worked for many years.

After leaving Rhodes, Matthew worked at the BBC’s online site (beeb.com), before doing web production at iafrica.com. He then became interactive editor at Carte Blanche. Matthew then spent seven pioneering years as General Manager of Mail & Guardian Online, where he trained dozens of journalists in the then new-fangled possibilities of ‘web 2.0’ technology, including blogging and using social media. He conceptualised and launched Thought Leader at the M&G which was, for many years, the most popular blogging forum in South Africa.

Matthew went on to work at News24 briefly before staring Creative Spark, a company he grew to 70 people strong in under a decade, before selling it to M&C Saatchi in 2015. He also founded Burn Media,  a group of technology publishing websites and brands which includes MemeburnVentureburn.comGearburn.com and others which he continued to run with vigour and vision until his death earlier this week.

On his LinkedIn profile Matthew described himself in these words: “I am an internet entrepreneur that exited his digital agency after 8 years. I now run another company I founded called Burn Media that focuses on investment, entrepreneurship, tech innovation and startups. I also work as EIR (Entrepreneur-In-Residence) to an international investment fund called the MDIF. I’m involved in the startup industry as an investor, entrepreneur, mentor and columnist. My loves are my family, work, travelling, mountain biking and my loopy Weimaraner.”

Jayne Morgan, Audio lecturer at the JMS, said “Along with many others I am shocked and saddened at the death of Matthew Buckland. Like so many people I can say he had a profound influence on my life. In 2006, just one year after the term ‘podcast’ had officially been coined, Matt - in his typical futurist thinking fashion - commissioned Tony Lankester and me to create the M&G podcast - ‘Between the Pages’ - one of the very first in the country and definitely the first time I’d even heard of such a thing and which then took me in a whole new direction.  Just after he was diagnosed in 2018 - although I didn’t realise it at the time - he came and gave one of the most inspiring talks about media entrepreneurship I’ve ever heard to my 4th year JMS students - who will carry his wisdom with him as they go out into the world. RIP Matt. You blazed so many trails and we are so much the poorer for your loss.”

Francis Mdlongwa, Director of the Sol Plaatjie Institute for Media Leadership at the JMS recalled “Matthew was a digital entrepreneur and innovator par excellence, dragging an often-reluctant South Africa to see the digital light. Matt dutifully attended all of the SPI's Africa Media Leadership Conferences spanning 10 years in different African countries between 2002 and 2010, and then the historic 2018 World Media Economics and Management Conference held in Africa for the first time in nearly 30 years in Cape Town. Matthew was way ahead of his generation in seeing and creating the future using digital and social media platforms.  There will never again be another one like him. Go well Matt”.

Matthew was working to complete a book about his life, loves and career right up until last week. His final tweet was posted on 17 April 2019. It read: “Final proofs for the book have just arrived... so exciting”.

All of us at the JMS would like to express our appreciation for Matthew’s life, and for his immense contribution to journalism and media in South Africa, and for his warmth, generosity, courage, humour and humanity. We extend our condolences to Bridget and his daughters, and to Janet, Andrew, Luke and Daniel and to all those who loved and cherished Matthew.

Copyright: Rhodes JMS (2019)

Source:  Rhodes JMS

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