By Sarin Drew
The Highway Africa Future Journalism Programme was created to bridge the gap between industry and journalism training, especially for universities that are not very well equipped.For any journalist, unemployment, unpaid internships and work experience have become a rite of passage into the journalistic world. Although, we are made to believe that our undergraduate degrees hold us in good stead for the future, we all know this is far from the truth.
The truth for any journalism student is that grovelling, slave work and coffee making await us after our glorified graduation parties. However, it is opportunities like the Highway Africa Future Journalist Programme (FJP) that are a direct gateway into the media world.
The FJP runs Schools throughout the year and culminate at Highway Africa every year. It is here that we begin to see the fruits of our labour as we converse with journalists from the world about issues that plague the media. We have had training schools throughout the year to equip us for our engagement with media during the conference.
“We are here to share our opinions about the current state of the media and engage with people involved in media. As an aspiring journalist this has been an eye opening experience.” said Khethukuthula Lembethe (20), a journalism student from the Durban University of Technology (DUT).
However, for FJPs the opportunity to network at this conference is equivalent to a receiving the confirmation for a breaking story.
Unathi Nkumi (22), from the University of Fort Hare is exploiting this opportunity. “Although it is very intimidating to speak to heavyweights in media, I just want to network as much as possible so that I can take a step closer to achieving my goals.”
The seminars and discussions about accountability, transparency and the emerging social media have been particularly enlightening. It helps us to realise that our generation of journalists have a lot of challenges to face. One key idea has been repeated throughout the conference. Michelle Atagana, Managing Editor of Burn Media articulated the idea that the changing format of journalism doesn’t mean a decline in the standard or credibility of the journalistic profession.
For the FJPs, we have taken heed of the many messages that have been sent to us by our future peers. It is our belief that the future of the media lies squarely on the shoulders of aspiring journalists. As FJPs we promise not to disappoint.