2014 : The highlights and lessons learnt

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The best, yet worst year of my life. I always say that everything happens for a reason…and this year has shown me that when you feel like the world is crashing down on you….relax, take a breather and remember that nothing is put in your path by accident.

Eyewitness News – The place where my year started. Eager, energetic and positive I was going to make a change in the world with my voice and my words. It was great at first but I quickly realised that it was not for me. And I’m not saying it’s not for everyone, it just wasn’t for me. What I had thought I wanted to be, was not what I was doing by working here. After many talks, lectures, thinking, weighing of pros and cons I decided I would leave. And I did.

While it was not the best experience for me, it was reality hard and cold. It being my first year out of varsity, I threw myself into the harsh world of the average working person and Oh! did I feel it. Over worked and under paid – the life of a mainstream news journalist was rough and tough. I learnt to never take anything to heart or personally. People will critic you all your life; I learnt to take it from where it is coming from. The harder the push the faster and further you fly.

Professionally, EWN taught how to work under immense pressure; I worked through some of the hugest times news journalism, Mandela’s death, the Oscar Trial and the national general elections, among other great sagas like Nkandla, the experience – priceless. I also got to meet some great people who inspire me through the work they do and the souls they keep. The biggest thing was I found I could really do anything I put my mind to. There is nothing you can’t do if you want it bad enough. I left knowing I could be a radio journalist and I could be great at it, but that did not mean that because I could do it I should. I did it, and it was time to move on, the box had been ticked.

2014 was also the year I graduated with my Honours degree. Yes – 23 and sitting on two degrees. An accomplishment in my books and something I had never planned or saw for myself. I was spring cleaning my cupboards recently and I came across a project I did back in high school. One of the questions was what I wanted to do after I finish school. My answer – I want to take a gap year after matric, travel the world and find myself haha! (The big dreams we have in school). Needless to say that never happened – I went from matric straight into varsity – but it all paid off I suppose.

Nowadays I sometimes ask myself why I studied further, I should have just worked and grown from there – but then I realise that my knowledge is priceless and can never be taken away from me. It’s something I did and worked hard at, something I have accomplished and nothing I should be afraid of showing off. Yes I have two degrees and yes I’m 23. I learnt to never be ashamed of what you work hard for. Don’t be afraid of who you are. I learnt that you can’t control what people say or think of you and anyway what people think of you does not matter – what does matter is what you think about yourself.

After 2014 I think I am more confident in the person I am and confident in the future I see for myself. I realise that the more you try to please people the unhappier you make yourself. I also learnt that life is too short to worry about the small things. The little failures 2014 brought me made me stronger and taught me that in life you HAVE to fail. It’s what makes life interesting and challenging. And if you aren’t challenged in life how will you grow.

My career – there is no plan, there is no definites and there is no storyboard and there is no “I can’t”, I am young and I feel like this part of my life will be over very soon. I won’t be able to do what I can now in a few years, so why not make the best of it. The only plan I have is to learn, not remain stagnant, live and love. And this year … 2015 I plan to do just that.

P.S I want to start my own beauty blog this year – because why not?

If you love all things beauty I suggest you watch and follow these accounts on Youtube:

Working life: Being a journalist

“A veteran journalist has never had time to think twice before he writes” – George Bernard Shaw

The view through the eyes of a journalist is not one easily seen through the eyes of the professionals, philanthropists and terrorists of the world – instead it is a combination of all.

This year I took huge leap into the very rigid and responsible sphere of the working world. The thought of leaving behind my years of being a carefree, oblivious and drunken student – in the least – terrified me.

Taking this leap of life was like walking with a blindfold into trouble. All I had to base my perception on was the endless bills I watched my parents pay, all the dreadful responsibility of being an independent adult and the distant thought that I would be answerable to someone – someone like a boss.

This “working life” I speak of came to me in the form of Eyewitness News (EWN) from Primedia Broadcasting in South Africa.

Having being a diligent student throughout my academic career – I was sure that will not drown as I take on my next career – this being journalism and the media.

I perceived myself as an informed honour student from Wits Journalism and when I got that email from EWN offering me a job – I perceived that it would be the perfect place to take the next step in this new career I was yet to embark on.

“A person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes” – Karl Kraus

Coming into a newsroom every day – you become less vulnerable to the little things in life. The small arguments from day-to-day with people you encounter, the tough criticism and the unshy sometimes unrealistic demands on you – all become something simple – like drinking tea.

You learn to become a tough and unconquerable person – immune to the things that would normally affect the average person.

A colleague of mine – in a long deep conversation – said to me that life is about friendship and acknowledgement. That’s exactly what I think about being a journalist. You need to have a lot of friends as contacts and the foundation of why we [journalists] do the work we do is for acknowledge. We want people to take notice of what we say, write and produce.

“The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read” – Oscar Wilde

Seeing reporters in and out of the newsroom – going to places of danger, celebration and sadness –  and coming back to produce some kind of content as if it were just one of those things is a talent that not many have – I believe.

This same colleague I spoke of earlier – told me that he lives a two-fold life and it’s important to dream – not just in your deep sleep – but in your day-to-day life. In line with the title of this blog – journalism is the dream in reality and – while we are not regarded as professionals in the “working world” it is something some people only dream of. It is a life experienced like no other. There is very little left to dream about – expect a better paycheck at the end of the month – I suppose.

Sometimes I do wonder how these journalists do it every day, with the minimal sleep, the long hours and the crazy deadlines – because you really do give your life to be a journalist – but suppose its about we live – the passion within that life.

As a young one starting off – I am excited of what the “working world” has in store for me. It turned out okay with some minor bumps, but an exciting career it is.

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon” – Tom Stoppard

Reflections of my life since Vuvuzela

First of all…apologies to my followers of this blog. I have been out of the scene for quite a while due to hectic transformations happening in my life. Here is an update of what has been going on in my world of journalism.

Wits Vuvuzela

I did not have time to write a my final post to the amazing class of 2013 of Wits Journalism…I will therefore wrap it all up into one post.

So I finished up my year at Wits Vuvuzela in November last year. While I knew the end would come one day….when it did…it felt way too soon.

It was the most amazing year of my life. The year that I fell in love with journalism. I met 16 very different people who I spent the year with. Through the process I learnt to understand them, I grew to love them and I adapted to work with them.

Each and every person including my lecturers’ all taught me something. Tears, laughter, screaming, singing, dancing, drinking, stress, deadlines and wanting to jump off the 11th floor of Senate House of Wits University with everyone with me is how I will forever remember this year.

My last year of being a student has ended and as sad and heart-wrenching as that is to swallow, it is the brutal truth. I could have not chosen or wanted a different way to spend my last year at varsity.

I wish each and every one of my classmates of 2013 the utmost best in the future endeavors, where it be in journalism or not. I hope you all end up doing what truly brings you joy. We made history at Vuvuzela and we were the best. The world of journalism definitely needs to prepare themselves for the amount of talent that is going to hit them next week when most of us will officially start work.

You all have bright futures ahead of you and I hope to meet you guys on the field together. I will miss all our laughter, singing and most of all twerking in the Vuvuzela newsroom.

To my lecturers’ thank you for all you taught me this year…education is priceless and without your guidance, I would not be as “wise” as I am now.

Eyewitness news

I have started work at Primedia at EWN and have been here for the past month. A shock to the system might be an understatement. This is the real world okay and wow have we been thrown in the deep end.

As my boss told me on the first day “You will be thrown in the deep end, try not to drown.”
I am glad to report that I have not drowned.

This place is full of senior reporters who are excellent at their work and the passion that flows through their veins for journalism is kind of unreal.

Radio is predominantly what I have been working on, mainly for 702 Talk Radio, 94.7 Highveld Stereo in Johannesburg and 567 Cape Talk in Cape Town and Kfm.

Yesterday I got a the load down on how the EWN website works…I must say that WordPress is much simpler.

I still have a whole year to spend at this place, but for right now I am trying to dig myself out of a very big hole from underneath all this experience in this newsroom. I do hope I get there someday today.

Final thoughts

Being and living in the “real world” is tough and its hard and its tiring but its what has to be done.

Cheers to upward mobility, happiness and progress!

Featuring only the best!

The past week in the Wits Vuvuzela newsroom was quite an experience and a very exciting but busy week.

Varsity Football Launch

We started off with news conference and I pitched my stories but I was especially excited to do a sports story. I ended up doing the Varsity football launch with one of my colleagues. I took photos for the event. We attended a short conference at the Wits Club that afternoon and then proceeded to the Milpark Stadium on campus where I got to mingle with various important people in the sports industry and I met my favourite rugby hero Francios Pienaar. It was great to listen him and speak to him. He is a very humble person and quite friendly, to my surprise.

Francios Pienaar, 1995 rugby world cup winning coach and me at the Varsity Football Launch. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Francios Pienaar, 1995 rugby world cup winning coach and me at the Varsity Football Launch. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Attending the football match between the Clever Boys from Wits University and the North West University team was unreal. I realized that football in universities is quite important and there are some die-heart supporters who attended the event. The stadium shook with cheers and dancing from the crowd.

I was part of the media and had to photograph the whole event so I was allowed onto the field with the players. I learned a bucket full about sports photography and this was just by being on the pitch and figuring out for myself how to get the perfect shot. Practice makes perfect!

Feature writing hints

On the same day Nechama Brodie came to speak to the class. She is a freelance feature writer and she spoke about important techniques a journalist needs to make use of when writing features. She has been wri6ting features for 16 years and has written for newspapers and several magazines.

Nechama Brodie, experienced feature writer came to speak to Wits Vuvuzela this week. Photo: Provided

Nechama Brodie, experienced feature writer came to speak to Wits Vuvuzela this week. Photo: Provided

“Writing is something that takes practice,” said Brodie. Which showed me that even journalists and authors are not the best writers, we all can be better by reading and writing more. Brodie also explained that “the nature of feature writing has changed,” they are no longer 3000 words but 600 words rather. This seems to be quite a disappointment because the long-form pieces of writing are is the cornerstone of literature.

Brodie also explained that in order to be a good feature writer you “need to have access to the world” and read more international than local publications, such as: American GQ; New York Times; Daily Maverick and Vanity Fair. She also emphasized the importance of being a professional and not an artist. As a writer you have a job to do and you need to be efficient in doing it so that people in the industry want you to write for them. Pay attention to your briefs from the editors and stick to the word count and deadlines. “Be a functional writer” said Brodie.

Magazine feature writing

On Tuesday we met Aspasia Karras, editor of Marie Claire. She is the epitome of fashion, beauty and success. Karras gave us useful hints in developing a feature for a magazine. Most important was brainstorming with other people over a glass of wine and coming up with new and fresh angles on stories which will still be relevant in two months time, as Marie Claire works two months ahead of time. One of the main things that stood is when she said: ask yourself the question “Who gives a f**k” when writing your story.

Aspasia Karras, editor of Marie Claire spoke to Wits Vuvuzela this week. Funny and interesting women. Photo: Provided

Aspasia Karras, editor of Marie Claire spoke to Wits Vuvuzela this week. Funny and interesting women. Photo: Provided

Karras gave us great online publications to read every day to develop our skills such as: Vegenda, Jezabell and The Atlantic.

The week only got better when on Wednesday the editor of City Press, Ferial Haffajee came to visit us. Haffajee gave us a tough quiz off the top about South African affairs and this was to show us that as journalists we need to be in the know every day all day about everything happening in the world but most importantly in our own country.

Editor of City Press, Ferial Haffejee came to speak to us about reading, writing and so much more. Photo: Kenichi Serino

Editor of City Press, Ferial Haffajee came to speak to us about reading, writing and so much more. Photo: Kenichi Serino

A very powerful women

She gave us some interesting features to read in the Mail & Guardian and the City Press and made us analyze it. This proved so useful in relating myself to what readers can relate to when you write a feature. She was one the best teachers we had this week and I learnt the most from the hour or so I spent with her. Definitely someone I aim to be like one day in this career.

I ended off the week by live tweeting from the debate around Mandela’s deception on Friday night with various comrades. The ANC, DA, EFF and the IFP were present for the debate. Jamie Mighti from the Wits Debating Union also took part in the debate. I must say that the whole even was a disappointment and nothing relevant was really said, and people’s mindsets in this country is quite distorted and shocking.

This discussion we will save for a future post!

Related articles: 

A superb photographer and photo journalist. 19 April, 2013

Trial Pandemonium stirred by Oscar Pistorius

Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius appeared at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court today looking cool, calm and collected according to observers.

This the updated post of the one I published a month ago on Oscar Pistorius. the full post did not show up. Follow the link below to read the full storify version.

[View the story “Trial Pandemonium stirred by Oscar Pistorius ” on Storify]

Mandela or Obama: You decide?

US President Barak Obama landed in South Africa yesterday, to receive an Honorary Law Doctorate from the University of Johannesburg (UJ), among other reasons. Many people of the public and Unionists object to Obama being invited into the country especially during ailing Mandela fights for survival.

For more follow the link below to read my storify of the event.

[View the story “Mandela and Obama: You decide?” on Storify]

Radioactive experience

radio

Growing up with the voices of John Robbie and Jenny Crwys Willams on Talk Radio 702 and later listening to DJ Fresh on Yfm and Jeremy Mansfield on 94.7 Highveld stereo, to now listening to Gareth Cliff on 5fm mornings and Anele on Highveld and Fresh on the ‘fresh drive’ on 5fm. These voices have all shaped the surroundings in which I grew up in.

I listened to these presenters and they were always just a voice, a path in which to gather my information and a voice which made me laugh and entertain me. Also, voices like Jeremy Mansfield who brought the human aspect to his radio presenting with his charity work. They are not just voices as I realized when I was old enough; they are people who sparked my interest in the media and my interest in the radio and television industry.

radio station

This week I have been doing my radio course at VoW fm (Voice of Wits) and it has been a for fillings experience thus far. Being on radio and being on television, working behind the scenes and producing what the public hear and see was just an unreachable thought a few years back. It was something I could aspire to but something I did not know I could ever do.

Now I have reached that stage where I see radio presenting and being a broadcast journalist is a definite in my future, it is something I know I will do in my career.

radio presenter

Last week we learnt the basics of radio presenting and news reading, the journalistic basics. The most important part of this was learning how to read the news. I learnt that in order to be on radio you do not have to have a radio voice, you need to have a good command of the English language and speak clearly. A journalist/news reader s meant to read the news the way they want to. not sing-song or elongated words but simply the way you would speak if you were giving a speech.

It is also important to breathe. The breathing exercises we did were amazing. The amount of things you can accomplish with breathing is unreal. My voice on record I feel sounds nasal-like but through breathing I was able to change my voice to being more suitable on record. Breathing also helps getting through the script without running out of breathe and calms your nerves.

earphones world

I recorded my first news bulletin in studio on Friday and it was extremely nerve racking in the beginning but listening to t back, it was pleased that I could do a decent job and not totally run the bulletin through the mud.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I cannot wait to get back into the studio again. The skills I have gained thus far in the course will equip me to walk into a studio and be able to get straight to work with the equipment and speech.