Where I’m at

That headline is probably a grammatical sin of note but I’m 23 and kind of cool so let’s just be strong.

So I have been a working girl for a few months now and figured it’s time to say something about that.

The Job

I am currently working at The Citizen newspaper, as you can tell from the infrequent posts I manage to put up. I’m an intern at the daily paper and I rate so far so good.

I have managed to end up on the front page a few times – which is really very flattering. I’m fortunate to be working somewhere where I am allowed to do that – most interns don’t really get the opportunity to write as frequently as I do. Most people do the things senior journos are “above doing” – making phone calls, rewriting press releases that kind of thing.

I almost feel guilty that I have all this freedom to do pretty much any and everything while some of my friends are on the press release end of the spectrum (note: I have nothing against press releases I use them as well just not enough to want to die yet).

On the other hand I feel like I was NEVER ready for a daily newspaper – life here is really fast. Sometimes it feels like I’m on a rotating conveyer belt – type, file, type, file, type, file – on and on. What doesn’t kill you right?

The money

Being in the working world, paying my own way through life has taught me a few things about myself. Initially I was like “who would ever use this much money in a month? Losers.”

In the beginning I could not spend it all, I saved some, spent more and carried over the rest. Then I decided it was time to invest in things I really needed, a new camera and laptop. It didn’t seem like that much money at the time but soon that coupled with careless social spending, ever increasing petrol prices brought me back to reality.

Last week I ended up with R40 and only enough petrol to go to work before pay day – it was the worst feeling (I’m very liberal with hyperbolic speech). I suppose I have to learn how to budget now. Having money is nice but it makes everything look shiny and like something I “need”.

The social/not so social life

Coming into journalism everyone warned me about not having a life. Something which I experienced a bit last year when I was doing my honours at Wits – I became the friend who cancelled plans last minute and was always late to things. I suppose last year I didn’t feel it as much because my classmates became a huge part of making up for the nonexistent social life.

This year, without them things are different. I do go out when I can but I mostly just want to sleep. Everyone works now so making plans, finding times that fit is another struggle – because you know they have boyfriends and things.

Then I go to stories and other journos know eachother and I just play candy crush to pass time. I suppose I didn’t count on the loneliness when I decided I want to work in the media (to paraphrase Fitzgerald Grant).

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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:

The Newsroom 2.3

Oi vay, another week another neglected post. This space is staring to resemble the empty pages of my diary that I somehow imagine my memory won’t fail me when the time to write everything down comes.

I’ve had a fairly chilled two weeks, doing this and that for the paper. This week the new lot got a bit more hands on with their writing and with helping to produce the paper. It took me back to exactly a year ago when we were going through the same thing. Having the same doubts, the unbridled enthusiasm and excitement to be doing what we love everyday. It’s nice to watch the process from this side of the fence.

I’ve written quite a bit over the past two weeks, put up the one’s I was particularly proud of up on this site already. Our time in the Vuvuzela newsroom is speedily drawing to a close. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time. But it is time, for the new lot to start taking charge of our baby and for us to let go – hand over the reigns and start being the journalists we’ve been trained to be.

Growing love affair

There’s just something really special about capturing a frozen moment in time. A look, a smile, a moment that would otherwise fade from your cerebral structures.

I remember the first time I got to do what I’d seen my dad do time and time again. I begged to get a disposable camera that I could take along to my very first school camp. It was yellow and black and the most valuable thing I had ever owned.  I was only ten so most of the pitcures were a mess.

Early morning shoot at the Chinese Police Forum. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Early morning shoot at the Chinese Police Forum. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

But so began a tradition. Every camp that rolled around saw me getting a little camera to take to camp. For me it was about documentation, about having visual aids that would support the stories I’d tell my family. Getting photos developed was the most exciting part of the experience because by then I had long forgotten what I’d managed to capture and the developed prints would be a pleasant surprise.

I knew I liked photos. That I like taking them, seeing them and being in them.

A few camps later and technological advancement had changed the game up. At about 14/15 digital camera’s had become commercially accessible.  Naturally I just had to have one. Who wouldn’t want to see their photo’s seconds after they’d taken them? It didn’t take much convincing to get my dad to buy me my first digital camera.

It was a thing of beauty. All those buttons and things that helped me not to miss.

Suddenly it became about more than smiley group photo’s. It became about landscapes and the extraordinary things that I saw around me. It became about the things that I wanted to capture. The things that I saw and how I saw them.

Over the years as the passion for the workings of the lens has grown, so has the need to do more than just capture frozen moments.

Now I want the composition,  the subject and back/foreground to tell a story. To do more than jog my memory. For the narratives to extend beyond the self.

I think that’s what I hope to do. I’m still learning and very keen to do so. Still trying to figure it out.

To see a little of what I have done so far, visit: therebble.tumblr.com 🙂

In-depth wrap up [2/4]

And just like that another week has come to an end.

I’ve just sent my second draft through to my mentor,  I know it’s still messy and needs a lot of work but I feel so much better about this one for sure.

My last submission was a very, very rough sketch, mostly of things to come.

This week was far more productive than last week was.  I knew it was getting late for me and my non-story so that lit a fire under my ass.

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Unfinished archway at Chinatown, Cyrildene. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

I knew that this unfinished arch in Cyrildene would be the peice of the puzzle that would make my story about development in that area come together, I just didn’t realise how vital this information would be to the rest of my story.

I’m not where I need to be yet but I am getting there I think. This may have been due to an attitude shift. I think a lot of us got over the small obstacles and chose to exhaust all other means of getting what we needed.

For lack of a better phrase, we had ourselves a cup of cement and hardened the fuck up.

The hustle was real this week, it was inspiring to watch and be a part of all at once. Maybe this won’t be the worst time after all.

The “r” word

I think I’ve figured it out. I’ve figured out why so many of my calls have not been returned.  Why so many emails have been no more than two line replies. Why so many of the people I have met in the past two weeks, have answered my questions by simply shaking their heads and in some lucky instances offering a referral.

Shop owners, developers, centre managers and some civil servants have all shied away when I dropped the big “r” word. Is too serious for them to take a chance, to make an official statement or even give an honest opinion?

Is the “r” word the thing that has closed off pathways to people who seemed like the most legitimate and potentially helpful sources?

Research. That is the “r” word.

In the past when I’ve worked on stories people have been open and keen to indulge me. Quick to answer my questions, send additional resources even.

I suppose this is not just any story though. Its the story.

It’s a test, a challenge and a chance to bring together our vast set of skills. To prod and poke, to not tire when it gets to daunting, to show that we’re capable. Capable of leaving shallow waters and venturing deeper. Of digging and digging until we find a story that hasn’t been told. Of being able to see angles that others have missed. Capable of being the kind of journalists we’ve been groomed to be.

The “r” word takes us to another level. It’s not a a matter of scratching the surface. It’s running up and down and around and around, it’s writing and re-writing, shooting and re-shooting. It’s what will launch us into greatness.

I’m trying to swallow the “r” word, to imbibe it, digest it and eventually produce something worthy. Onwards and upwards.