The Newsroom 2.4

The time I used to dread and now look forward to has finally come. This is my last week interning at the Wits Vuvuzela. It is time for us to hand over our baby to the new students and hope they raise her right.

As that happens I’m heading out into the big bad world full of daily deadlines, long nights and probably on my way to becoming a social recluse. As of next week I’ll start working in a “real” newsroom (as opposed to the simulated one I’ve been working in). For the longest time that has been something that’s quite scary to me but now after these two months back at Wits, I’m very ready and in fact keen to leave my comfort zone and take on this new challenge.

It was interesting to get to see the new students, knowing that a year ago I was in their shoes. I got to watch them in a retrospective manner, seeing who I used to be before I was moulded into shape by this course. At this point there’s nothing more we can do to prepare for what’s about to come. I can only hope that those I have had a hand in mentoring take those lessons and use them effectively.

Here’s a short but not so short audio recording of my last goodbye:

#teamvuvu: Nokuthula Manyathi

iThuli or Thuli with an ‘i’ is another native from the Ridge. She is however a nomad, who travelled to Diepsloot every evening and on weekends. This Oprah stan is the personification of the phrase dynamite comes in small packages.

Looking summer fresh.
Looking summer fresh.

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Thuli: Summery (is there such a word?)

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Thuli: Clean and casual

Me: Are you sure about this journalism thing?

Thuli: Yes, I am. In my  16+ years of being in the school system I have never felt more at home then I do now.

Me: That said, if you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Thuli: I’ve never seen myself doing anything that doesn’t involve people. I’d be doing something that involves interacting with people on a daily basis, like teaching.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Thuli: This year has been amazing. Everyday even on my worst day I was excited to come to class. I don’t remember bunking or skipping a day of school. This year a fire was ignited or a passion within me that I hadn’t thought I had. I’m generally excited about the future but this year took my excitement level about the future to another level. I’m in love.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Thuli: I’m not a writer. I express myself best verbally. So I was challenged in that I had to explain/express my thoughts and concepts on paper. When I arrived I was very insecure about my writing I would spend days on one story to try make it perfect but now(because of practice) I file stories faster and people understand what I’ve written which is a big win for me. This was both a challenge and reward. (Oh and live tweeting used to kick my ass).

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Thuli: Next year I’ll be at City Press here in jozi. I’m really excited to be challenged and to be pushed to the edge. I can’t wait to be pushed into the deep end and see myself swim cause that’s the only option I’ve given myself.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Thuli: Passionate, visionaries, extended family

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Thuli: Enjoy boot camp that’s the most time free time you will have in afternoons to have a social life. What you put in is what you will get out. Your growth is dependent on what YOU are willing to give. Don’t stress, even the “experienced writers” in class are insecure about their work. Take every opportunity.

Quickfire Q & A: 

#teamvuvu: Liesl Frankson

Liesl [pronounced lee-sil] has been of the most feisty and sassy people in our class this year. I will miss our early morning banter and conversations through looks.

Holiday mode: ON. Just shopping, chilling.
Holiday mode: ON. Just shopping, chilling.

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Liesl: It’s inspired by the sunny weather. The heat especially, that’s why I’m wearing shorts and a very thin, loose, flowy top.

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Liesl: I wear whatever feels comfortable. I’m very driven by the weather. I would hate to be inappropriately dressed for the weather.

Me: On to the less frivolous, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Liesl: I’m sure about it to a certain extent. I think you can’t lose when you study Journalism. Print maybe not so much, radio is definitely more of my thing.

Me: If you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Liesl: Um, I would be doing this, there’s no other way. When I applied for this course it was Wits Journalism or bust. I didn’t apply for anything else because this is all I wanted to do.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Liesl: Challenging but fun.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Liesl: Being in a class with a whole lot of other females with their personalities has by far been the most challenging thing for me. I had to hold my tongue a lot of the time.

 

The most rewarding thing has been getting to know these people and getting to see your work in the newspaper. Also getting to see the newspaper being acknowledged, getting awards and stuff [#winning]

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Liesl: I still don’t know, it’s bad.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Liesl: Very loud, almost like a family – that’s not three words but ya, like a family because everybody had their roles, so there were mother hens, there were big sister types ya.

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Liesl:  Take everything very seriously, everything you do is going to count. So when they say rock up there with however many stories to pitch, you need to have those stories cause that shit counts

Quickfire Q&A: 

#teamvuvu: Leigh-Ann Carey

Leigh-Ann (aka LA, yes as in Reid) is another migrant from the Ridge, who later got her life together and moved to Diepsloot, dankie ANC.

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

LA:  Today I’m wearing shorts, a crop top and flops. I think I look pretty cool. I’m also rocking my afro and chunky earrings. 

Holiday's treating home girl best. Photo: Provided
Holiday’s treating home girl best. Photo: Provided

 

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

LA: I wear comfortable clothing, um a mixture of vintage and retro. Anything that’s cheap and looks good on me, that’s on the vintage side is what I’d describe as my style.

Me: On to the less frivolous, are you sure about this journalism thing?

LA: I know for a fact that I don’t wanna do politics and print journalism, I’m more of a radio person. Radio is a passion, it comes easy to me and I feel at home when doing it. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I can write but I just don’t want to be writing for like City Press, unless I’m doing writing that isn’t political or hard news.

Me: If you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

LA: I would be doing my honours in advertising at UJ. I got accepted for that, so I would have been doing that.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

LA: It’s been extremely hectic, a whole lot of reading, writing for Vuvu, trying to read in between – um – trying to socialise as well. So many things have suffered because of the hectic schedule.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

LA: Finding my style of writing has been challenging. I think with journ everywhere you go people or organisations have an idea as to how you should write, I guess that’s one of things that make me think I don’t ever want to be a writer. Not that I wouldn’t ever wanna be a writer, but I feel like you constantly change your style to adapt to a publications style. Like this year I had to write according to Vuvu style and if I went to another publication next year, I would have to write in their style, so it’s like I don’t even know what my style is because I’m forced to adapt to so many writing styles.

 

I’ve learnt so many things this year. I’ve learnt how to make sense of a story, what to include, what to write. I think my writing skills have definitely improved, without a doubt. That’s been the most rewarding thing. I think the assurance that this is either what I want to do or not, made me learn a lot about myself as well.

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

LA: I’ll be working at CNBC Africa, I don’t know what I’m gonna be doing. They asked me what I wanted to do and I said anything apart from writing, so I could do events, PR, maybe try my hand at graphics, ya.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu class of 2013?

LA: We had a lot of big personalities, just a different bunch of people. Some people had some sort of “deeper passion” for journ, whereas some people were just trying to learn how to become journalists, whereas other people were actually serious I guess.

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

LA: Don’t lose yourself.  I think people assume you’re a better writer if you’re spying and reporting on the fact that Jacob Zuma has a side chick [hahaha], that’s not who you are. If that’s not what you want to write about don’t force yourself to write about it and don’t feel stupid for wanting to write entertainment stories or stories about make-up. Ya, don’t lose yourself for a career, it should come naturally. We are all different kinds of writers. 

#teamvuvu: Mfuneko Toyana

The only dude in our class, Funi – the prodigal son, humoured me by answering my questions via correspondence this afternoon as he sat in a park somewhere and he didn’t get kidnapped while he did it, kudos.

Another selfie, this one with some foreground/background action - dlala Shakes Jnr. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Another selfie, this one with some foreground/background action – dlala Shakes Jnr. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Funi: I’d describe it as very comfortable and simple. It’s grey and black, a bit bland but it works.

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Funi: Um, apparently I start all my sentences with “um,” so um. When you asked the question I thought you meant my writing style not my dress style, so I’m going to answer both. My writing style is an inside joke and you could say that my dress sense is the same. It’s very chilled, relaxed, loose with an emphasis on comfort.

Me: Now on to the more serious, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Funi: I’m absolutely, 100% sure about journalism and I guess more widely about writing. But ya, very serious about journalism – it’s a calling and it takes time for you to understand what that means, I don’t fully understand what it will entail, but I’m all in.

Me: That said, if you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Funi: I suspect I would be doing one of two things, I’d either be studying History or English Literature, probably a bit of both. Or I’d be in advertising, particularly as a copywriter or pushing a desk job as a marketer, which would be terrible, just doom.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Funi: I’ve found it interesting I guess and useful. More than anything else it’s helped me develop a lot of discipline and be clear about what I want for the future. It’s also been very demanding, extremely demanding.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Funi: The most challenging has been the discipline aspect I think. It’s taking what I want to do and what I have to do, and trying to combine those and have and end product. I think I’ve done okay with that though.

 

Hmmm, the most rewarding thing has been being able to write more and consequently being able to go out into the world more. I got to see different things and watch a whole lot of other situations and other people, and just be around journalists – journalists to be and working journalists. And the free food, the free food has been very rewarding for my belly and my tastebuds.

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Funi: Next year if the world doesn’t end, I’ll be at Wits for the first few months of the year, skivvy for the department – earning my stripes. For three months after that I’ll be at Reuters, watching the markets. Somebody told me it’s like bird watching except there’s no birds. Ya, I’ll be doing financial journalism at Reuters paying them back for school fees this year and I’m not sure what happens after that, hopefully I’ll be in a newsroom, that’s the main goal.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Funi: Fuck, that’s tough [these aren’t the words, I hope]. Uh, a whole lot of girls? *chuckles*. I’d day loud, ferocious – no, scratch ferocious, more tenacious than ferocious and very with it, hip , hipsters – yes, that’s how I would describe them.

A fourth word, I can’t believe I left this out very, very, very talented, above anything else. I guess it comes from the other three words.

Me: How did I feel being one of only two members of the opposite sex in the class?

Funi: It felt great, for the first couple of weeks even months. I guess I was excited to tell people that I’m in a class with 15 or 16 girls, depending on how you look at these things. But it was very interesting, I wouldn’t say challenging, who would be challenged by being in a class with 15 women? It brought a lot of insight, I got to be with these 15 very different women, with very different personalities, different opinions and very different ways of carrying themselves – of carrying their beauty, their inner light and their outer light [awwwwwwww]. It was fascinating to see how that all came across in the context of a newsroom, where we’re trying to produce something meaningful for the world outside. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that and I thoroughly enjoyed the kind of relationships I was able to have and to attempt, because life is just one big attempt isn’t it?

 

There are a few negative side effects – I now scratch my non-existent breasts, because of monkey see monkey do situation. When you see me in public scratching non-existent C or D cups, don’t look down on me,  it’s not my fault.

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Funi: Take this shit very seriously, take every day seriously, take close to every moment seriously. I’m not talking about a flippant sort of serious, I’m talking about taking this as a calling. More than anything honour your craft which means  understand what journalism is, read every day, be interested, be fucking curious, watch as much news as you can, keep dissecting things, write as much as you can. Be a geek about this shit because it is a calling and it’s a tremendous calling, ya don’t be an asshole about it – be a geek about it. That’s what it takes to be a championship journalist, like we were in 2013, thank you. No autographs *laughs*

[Thanks Will McAvoy].

#teamvuvu: Nomatter Ndebele

Meet my neighbour in class, Nom Nom. We have been neighbours since the begininigg of this year and as such shared much mgozi over coffee in the mornings.

Selfie vibes. Photo: Nomatter Ndebele
Selfie vibes. Photo: Nomatter Ndebele

 Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Nomatter: Function over form. I had things to do, I had to get them done so I didn’t focus on looking good – ya I didn’t focus on the form, I just focused on the function.

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Nomatter: Hobo chic and then every now and again, you know, I throw some niceness in the mix.

Me: Now that we’ve broken the ice, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Nomatter: I’m sure about journalism, I am surer than I have ever been about anything in my life. I think, well I know for a fact that I’m not going to be a print journalist but anything else definitely goes.

Me: That said, if you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Nomatter: I think I would be pursuing drama, acting kinda vibes.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Nomatter: Very challenging and very real – also very realistic. It has forced me to look at things in a different way than I see them in my head.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Nomatter: Having to be the journalist that I want to be, in a newsroom of 16 other personalities. Often people pooled onto the one side and I was often on the other, so it was a challenge for me to still be myself and still be a part of the team.

The most rewarding thing I suppose has been achieving that. I was able to remain myself in the course and nurture the journalist I want to be in the future, without having to be the typical serious kind of journalist.

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Nomatter: Reuters news agency, interning there and interning at the Wits Journalism department for a while as well. I hope to learn as much as I can so I can fly to greater heights.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Nomatter: Loud, consistent and dynamic.

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Nomatter: Always be prepared to put up a fight, write from your heart and filter the white noise. A lot of people are going to have a lot of things to say but you can’t let them get to you. 

#teamvuvu: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

Today you get to meet the stunning, Busi/Sibu. Another one of the awesome people from teamvuvu 2013.

Sibusisiwe Nyanda looking gorg. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Sibusisiwe Nyanda looking gorg. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Busi: Summery, fun. It has a little touch of class, it’s a little chic.

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Busi: I think my style in general is representative of the above. I like to look cute and pretty but there’s always a sense of my personal style in that. While I’m interested in what’s trending and what’s hot, I think it’s always important to have your own sense of style. I actually like a lot of my mom’s stuff, her style is on point.

Me: Now that we’ve broken the ice, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Busi: To be honest with you, I’m sure that journalism is still something that I love. I’m just not sure that journalism is something that I would be good at and that scares me. I know that it’s got a lot to do with, you know, how I performed this year – I don’t think that I put myself out there and gave it as much as I could have. And that’s led to my questioning whether or not this is something I can do. I don’t question whether or not I love it, I question my ability to actually do it as well as I’d like to.

Me: That said, if you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Busi: I would definitely be doing music. When I left high school I wanted to go to UCT and do music and my parents were just like listen, no – get a real career. That’s how I ended up doing Media Studies and Journalism. I’m still interested in doing music at some point in my life.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Busi: It’s been challenging, demanding but it’s also been the best year of all my studying. Um, I’ve met awesome people and I feel like I’ve been exposed to the kind of practical, how to you apply theory stuff that I’ve always spoken about. When I started in my first year, I expected Media Studies to be like Journalism and I felt like it was a great waste of time when all that theory was being thrown at me without any place to actually apply it. I think in hindsight it was useful but this year has definitely been the best year. It’s been that kind of put yourself in the deep end and swim type of year, and I’ve loved that.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Busi: The most challenging thing has been the Monday pitches. Having to always have your brain switched on and have your finger on the pulse on what’s happening in the community, to be able to come back with something on Monday morning with an idea of what you’re going to put in the paper and making sure that it’s relevant.

The kind of feedback we get from people has been rewarding. People who like the stories that you put out or even for me, what matters more is my own peers telling me “that was cool, I liked the way you did this, I liked the way you did that”. To have your peers respect and admire some of the stuff that you’ve done, when you all started out knowing absolutely nothing was really rewarding for me.

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Busi: I’m going to be an intern-journalist at Drum magazine, in Sandton.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Busi: Loud, opinionated and trailblazers. This has been the group that decided that just because this is how things have been done all this time doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Where some of the traditions and structures made sense I think the group conceded but where things didn’t, this group wasn’t afraid to speak out. Whether it was in the department or in terms of Wits  and the community’s attitude towards certain issues – this has just been that group. I think that’s really important because that’s what the industry needs, so ya.

[how quickly  3 words can turn into 100 :P]

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Busi: Don’t pay attention to people who tell you that what you’re doing is a waste of time, because half the time you’ll find that those people are applying for the course anyway. Where there’s constructive criticism, definitely yield towards it and listen. But make sure that you aren’t paying attention to people who have shallow, empty criticism. Those are just people who have too much time on their hands. Also try not to compete with each other as a group. Have fun yo, enjoy your time here – it’s over before you know it.

#teamvuvu: Shandukani Mulaudzi

image
Shandu in the stu. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Shandukani Mulaudzi is our class rep, our problem child and also my boo thang. Have a read to hear what’s popping with my neighbour.

Me: How would you describe your outfit today?

Shandu: Humpf, it’s bright, casual and comfy?

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Shandu: People like to say it’s alternative, boho chic or whatever but I don’t like those words. I don’t have a word to describe my style, I just dress for myself and for the mood I’m in. My style icon is Solange Knowles.

Me: Now that we’ve broken the ice, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Shandu: Defo’s. I’ve waited to do journ since I was in grade 10 (2005) but I had to take a bit of a detour for a while. I really can’t see myself anywhere else.

Me: That said, if you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Shandu: Vokken hell, um singing on a stage  or acting. Whatever it would be it would be something creative.

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Shandu: Everything I expected and much more. I’ve learnt a lot, but I didn’t expect to make friends and not just any friends the kind of friends that will be at my wedding one day.

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Shandu: The most challenging thing has been having to call out my mentors when they were wrong. Cause they are wrong sometimes and in those times you have to stand your ground.

The most rewarding thing has been being able to work alone and in groups without it being forced on us. Through working in groups I have learnt to trust people and to embrace mine and others strengths and weaknesses.

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Shandu: I’m going to be a young intern at You magazine in Sandton.

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Shandu: *laughs for a while* Ambitious, musical and extroverted.

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Shandu: Don’t compare yourselves to teamvuvu 2013, you’ll come short. They should just know that what they put into the year is what they will get out. Also they should try to apply themselves in everything that is put before them. And bloody hell go to the Pig. Learn to balance work and play now. 

#teamvuvu: Ray Mahlaka

Always ready with a pose. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Always ready with a pose. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

While there was relative calm in the newsroom yesterday , I stole Ray for a few minutes to have a wee chat.

*Disclaimer: “Ray” is not his government name…

Me: How would you describe your outfit/style for the day? 

Ray: I usually go for a professional/workplace look but today I had to get dressed really fast, so I have a relaxed and casual look. 

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Ray: I dress in a way that’s adaptable to many social situations, as a rule I always try to go for a professional look. 

Me: On to the more serious, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Ray: Yes, I’m in it for the long haul. Journalism teaches you about this country and it’s nuances. I’ll only leave the industry in 20 years or so to settle down.

Me: If you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Ray: I’d be a certified gold digger *laughs* No, I would be probably be an economist, I really like finance and business so ya. 

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Ray: It has been an intense year but it’s also been very pleasurable. I’ve learnt valuable and priceless skills this year and now I can honestly say we’re competitive journalists. This course has enabled us to call ourselves journalists and I’m sure that that there’s a place for me in the industry now. 

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Ray: Challenging: Time management, balancing my personal and work life has been tough. My work dominated my schedule to the point that it consumed my life. 

Rewarding: Seeing our work making a difference. With our sexual harassment stories we helped how people view this institution and it’s structures, the VC award we got is proof of that. 

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Ray: I can’t say specifically where, I’m still considering my offers but I it will definitely be in this industry, financial journalism to be specific. 

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Ray: Fucking awesome (that’s two but whatever), diligent and family. 

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Ray: Hmmm, they shouldn’t have any expectations coming in and they should always try to work with what they have. In this course what you put in is what you’ll get out. And lastly they should just have fun. 

#teamvuvu: Dineo Bendile

This lovely lady is one of my classmates from the  Bushbuckridge section of the class, who let me crawl under her Diana Ross hairstyle for a few minutes to do a quick interview with her.

Dineo in her Beyonce inspired outfit today. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Dineo in her Beyonce inspired outfit today. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Me: How would you describe your outfit/style for the day?

Dineo: I saw a picture of Beyonce last night wearing shorts and a loose fitting jersey and it inspired me. So basically Beyonce on a Budget.

Me: How would you describe your style in general?

Dineo: My style is very versatile. Right now I’m entering a new chapter of my life, so my style is more more laid back right now but trust me I am glam all the way otherwise. 

Me: On to the more serious, are you sure about this journalism thing?

Dineo: I’m sure that I wanna work in the media. I don’t want to be a reporter on the field forever but I do want to work as a journalist for a year or so to start off with. 

Me: If you weren’t doing what you doing this, what would you be doing?

Dineo: Leeching off some rich man. Seriously though, I studied drama so I’d probably be doing something in the arts. Or actually what people don’t know about me is that I love accounting, so maybe I’d be doing that. 

Me: How have you found your honours year?

Dineo: It’s been spectacular. With my last degree there were days when I hated what I was doing. This year I have never dreaded coming to school. This confirmed that I didn’t make a mistake choosing this course. I’ve also met amazing people, even when I’m having an offish day I know seeing them will change that. 

Me: What’s been the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing for you this year?

Dineo: The most challenging thing has been listening to lecturers advice. We work in a very creative environment, as such I thought we would be allowed to do whatever we want. So ya consulting people has been difficult for me because I like to do my own thing. 

The most rewarding thing has been seeing the work we do impact people’s lives and being recognised by outsiders. Earlier this year two guys stopped me in their cars, I thought they were trying to be fresh and were trying to make but they just said: “We like you in the Vuvuzela.”

Me: Where will you be next year and what will you be doing?

Dineo: I have no idea, all I know is that I’m ready. I want to be anywhere that will allow me to use what I’ve learnt this year. 

Me: How would you describe #teamvuvu in three words?

Dineo:  All I’ll say is more personalities, more problems and more fireworks. 

Me: A word of advice for the incoming team for 2014?

Dineo: They should really cherish every moment of it, especially the moments of interaction with people. They should also be prepared to set aside their ‘set lives’ to explore and try different things.