by Sindisiwe Mthembu
Journalism is one of the most complicated yet interesting careers. The interesting part of it is that the media industry changes everyday due to the advanced technology introduced to access information unlike in the ancient days where reporters had to read books to get information but now there are social networks that allow people to share information and there are also sites that are easy to visit to get information.
Highway Africa conference was very informative. The issues or the topics discussed were an eye opener to me as a journalism student and as a young person fascinated by the media but who doesn’t really have any experience. It is different when you have a lecturer standing in front of you talking about objectivity in reporting stories, ethics, balance and accuracy but finally having heard the people who work in the media sharing their experiences, the difficulties that journalists come across when trying to get stories and the difficult situations where they have to report about conflicts. This has made me realise that it is not about writing and having the story making the front page of a newspaper but it is about using media to give the people a voice in everything happening in their country and making their views known. The media is known for being biased when it comes to reporting about issues regarding gender. Rosemary Okello-orlale spoke strongly about how journalists tend to shy away from other issues concerning males but only report about the poor women or a female that has suffered a particular form of abuse. Okello-orlale says the media must also tell stories about a man who has lost his job and give him the opportunity to express his feelings.
This again took me back to realising the importance of being able to report a balance and an unbiased story. On an issue of how people rely on international media for information or news Okello-orlale said journalists who work for giant international media industries such as the BBC and CNN are given enough time to do research when given a story unlike in Africa where a journalist is given a few days to research and work on a story trying to catch a deadline. She says most of these stories consist of inaccurate information and they are not award winning stories. I could personally relate to what she said because often times I read a story in a newspaper and at the end it says “the person could not be reached for comments”, this makes me wonder how that journalist managed to put together a story and have it published when there is only one side of the story and where she or he did not get some of the information from “the horses mouth” the person whose story is about.
Having attended the Highway Africa conference I now have an idea of what to expect when I get into the media industry and what other opportunities are available within the media industry.