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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
A superb photographer and photo journalist. 19 April, 2013