18 April, 2008

Being a Student Journalist in SA- the hardships

Buhle Mbonambi (DUT)
These past few weeks have been so turbulant for the South African media that we almost believe that we can report on anything until the next controversial issue rocks us again. Think the UFS video, the DRUM journalist who got beaten up while covering the story in Bloemfontein, the Forum for Black Journalist vs Talk radio 702 drama and then the latest shocker, David Bullard's article.
Now you are probably wondering what all these issues have to do with being a student journalist, but they influence us big time...
These issues have made some of my colleagues and I to view the field in a different way. We were totally ignorant of all these issues and all of a sudden we now have to deal with them. Bahle Makohliso, a journalism student from DUT says; " It has shown me that we have been hiding behind this 'Rainbow Nation' facade. It is sad that the media created this image of our country and 2008 has brought about a change in our thinking, reporting, writing columns and has unfortunately brought fear in us student journos about the future of journalists and their wellbeing."
I was watching 3talk on Wednesday (16 April 2008), and the topic was about 'Media players at loggerheads'. To say that it was interesting is to disadvantage it. It was HOT! Heated from the word go. Noeleen had David Bullard, an intellectual from UNISA, Abbey Makoe of the FBJ and Katy Katopodis, news editor at 702, as guests on the show to discuss the issues they've in some ways started. They discussed everything professionally and they weren't scared to voice their opinions and that was so reassuring to know that we are after all allowed to voice our views on issues affecting us. Oh and David apologized.
Journalism should be about free and fair reporting and that isn't happening these days, even at the Sunday Times. Now it's all about who it is writing the column and racism is rife in the media. A friend , Fooh Mzimela said when we were debating about the FBJ in class: " I'd join the FBJ because the issues they standfor are true and I don't understand what the hype is all about." This is true, but the problem was how the matter was handled by the parties concerned and the manner in which the white journalists were excluded. She then added; " What would happen if a "Forum for Women Journalists" was formed? Would there still be an issue?"
Now that is the type of proactive thinking that student journos should be doing, and we don't seem to be doing it. I wasn't doing it. I wasn't looking at the bigger issue, just the small things that may affect us in the future.

1 comment:

Future Journalists Programme said...

Nqobile (Future Journalist)
What more is there to say Buhle, you have really tackled this issue. I mean recapping what was said in the workshop, the media is ideally a space for fair representation of 'facts' and subjectivity, but who said media personnel had no opinions of their own. We have become so institutionalised such that we have lost face of who we are; and that is humans and individuals! Fistly, this debate about censorship is a two sided coin really. Student journalists are taught to be objective, yet also to stick to their media house ideologies when reporting. I think it must be noted that 'objectivity' and 'ideology' are two issues existing on different plains of the media landscape. Secondly, what is one to do in a situation where the reported story is not in actual fact the truth and the journalist him/herself is strongly opinionated against their own words [those of the editor really]. Do they let it pass for another paycheck monthend or do they stand their ground? What would I as a student intern do? Honestly, its a question I've been pondering for quite some time now and when i finally find the answer, i can only wonder what would have influenced it -[my conscience or my professionalism]and what the media landscape would be like at the time???

These issues of BEE and FBJ tell me something. That the new south africa must really revise its policies. We are fresh from apartheid and have in our minds abolished the horrific era and are free of 'racism' bla...bla...bla. But are we really. I don't know. It is said that the victimised will always weigh the pro's and cons such that at the end they become the victimisers. Sleep on that one my friend