The Newsroom 10

Oh my, the end is here – in fact it has already come and gone hasn’t it?

This week was the most relaxed week we have ever had in the newsroom. This was the week that we got total control of the newspaper. As such none of the ‘big people’ were allowed to be involved in the production of our last paper for the year.

News conference on Monday set the tone for the rest of the week, we chose what we would be doing and once that was done went off to the Pig, haha, I knew that the week would be filled with nuts because of this.

For once I was relieved to have a thousand ad’s in the paper, it made our jobs a little easier. This last edition was meant to be fun and light, seeing as we had free reign but unfortunately we have become news writing automatons who can’t help but report the news instead of fun frivolities. Either way by 1pm on Thursday we had miraculously put together a paper. A whole newspaper – even though we were a little short staffed this week.

It was a great way to end off what has been an incredible year, personally speaking the best year of my life. This year was my chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do, to become someone with a public voice, an influential voice that is taken seriously. I’ve had the chance to be a part of an amazing team that ruffled feathers by asking the right questions, and digging and digging until they found some shred of evidence to get the stories. We have caused quite a bit of trouble this year and it’s paid off in more ways than one.

It’s been a roller coaster ride of a year, but a more pleasant one like the Golden Loop – which is quick and fast but not enough to make you scream and cry like perhaps the Anaconda (never again). It was an intense year, chock-a-block with work and fun – no one said it would be easy but no one said it would be so much fun as well. I’m leaving with much more than a degree.

It scares me how much talent is about to unleashed into newsrooms next year, teamvuvu gladiators have bright futures ahead of them shem. Again, it has been nothing but an honour to be a part of this year’s team – they will forever hold a special place in my heart as the people helped my dream come true. The people who held my hand this year, who made me coffee, who sang with me, who had drink after drink with me, the people I missed when I was absent, the people who have become my friends, my family.

It’s time for us to go our separate ways, be great and become the people we are meant to be.

The end is nigh

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the end. It is our last academic block, the last block I will spend in the Vuvu newsroom.

I can imagine that my sleep deprived body is celebrating at the thought, but the rest of me, is quite sad. Sad that there are only three editions of the Wits Vuvuzela left to produce, sad that I will no longer see the same 16 faces (well 18 if I include K-dawg and Mama D) and sad that I will no longer have people join in when I randomly burst into song.

The past week and a half were a taste of the emptiness that awaits me. I had my mid-year photography course with just one other classmate. It was eerily quiet in the newsroom, making it that much more obvious that our whole family was gone.

On the few days that people did come in to work, I felt whole again – suddenly the days weren’t as long and my mouth seemed to curl into smiles more often. I wish someone had warned me against getting too close to these people, it’s going to be tough without them next year.

We went on a little field trip for a lesson in photography at the Times Live Media group. The newsroom was very quiet, very orderly, very cold even. Everyone seemed to be glued to their own cubicle, trying to meet their deadlines. Got the sense that it’s an every man for himself situation. Which I am definitely not used to after this year. All my efforts, all our efforts have been to make the Wits Vuvuzela the best newspaper it can be. No single gain made has been one that we all haven’t contributed to or are proud of.

And in testimony to that every so often I think back to all that we have achieved this year and all I can think is, “Man I love my team”.

The potential team vuvu for 2014 are already in the process of being chosen, the first round of tests started last Friday. That scared me shitless. It was not so long ago that I was where they are, hoping with everything inside of me that I would get picked.

It has been a grueling and trying year, but one I would do all over again if given the chance. We’ve had our ups and downs, more ups than downs and I will cherish them forever.

So as we head into the final weeks of being student journalists, I plan to make each day memorable – not they haven’t been but just because I realise how little time I have left to do so. Onwards and upwards 🙂

The Newsroom 8.5

The past seven days have been jam packed and felt more like two weeks than one.

Our lives got much busier when we were told that we had to put another 12 page paper together.  Personally I was excited, a 12 pager gives us more room to ‘play’ and deliver more copy. Were it not for the 12 pager we would not have been able to do this photo spread:

PAGE 6&7 (Aug 12).indd

PORTABLE LOO: With no garages in sight, my car doors were turned into a restroom. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
PORTABLE LOO: With no garages in sight, my car doors were turned into a restroom. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The Newsroom 8.0

The Newsroom 8.0

I should be writing a news feature right now, but the task seems impossibly daunting as the deadline draws ever closer.

We had our first crack writing the intro to a feature earlier in the week, which served as some sort of prep for this. We all had to interview our partners  and write up a scene setter from what they had told us. Learnt so many entertaining and heart-breaking things about my colleagues. Thus far that has been one of my favourite feature writing classes.

Getting stuck into the paper proved difficult this week, you know with it being an 8 pager and all. Somehow things always take longer when we have less pages to fill. Makes no sense but yeah that’s how things seem to go.

Scribbled two things for the paper – two informational pieces. Production was a bit more tense than usual but all of that was long forgotten later that evening at our Court Reporting party.

We had Court Week earlier in the year, a week that was somewhat of a rollercoaster. Drinking before writing our stories seemed to be one of the best things most of us could have done – this alternative method making for some peoples best writing.

We officially became ‘award winning’ journalists that evening – must say it felt so nice. I realised then that I might be doing the best Honours course in the world and also that the people I am doing it with are beyond awesome.

AND THE WINNER IS: Scored my self three awards :D Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
AND THE WINNER IS: Scored my self three awards 😀 Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

This coming week is going to be rather adventurous, going to Oppikoppi with a colleague – things might get messy, but not too messy for us to capture the whole thing through our lenses and pens. But before the fun begins, I have to write this feature and help put a whole paper together.


The Newsroom 7.0

It was 09:45 on a Wednesday morning. The excitement of seeing familiar faces had waned and I had already missed two deadlines. All I wanted to do at that point was sleep. Sleep for longer than five hours.

First week back in the newsroom has been nothing sort of exhausting. Gone are the days of sleeping in, late lunches, series marathons and groove. The break was very, very good to me. I had about six and a half weeks to do the things I no longer had time for when I started this course.

The week started early, the Friday before this Monday – with news conference. We needed to plan well in advance for our 12 page edition, which came out this past Friday. We had a lot of content, which made for stabilised stress levels (mostly).

Along with trying to do this ‘little’ producing a paper thing, we started with feature writing classes. We have been told that this part of the course is one of the most difficult. I had hoped these are just scare tactics, failure doesn’t look good on me. But on the real I am quite keen. I feel like feature writing will make me write creatively and in a way that is less insular than I do on these interweb streets.

Back to the newsroom – I was rusty AF. I wrote one story on newly signed work contracts by Wits cleaners – that wasn’t too bad I rate. My design work on the other had was horrendous *shaking my head at myself* It reminded me that being good requires practice – lots of it. Something which rang true with the photo’s I took this week – the photography work I did in the holidays has made me polish up my skills behind the lens.

My favourite shot was of Albert, a Witsie with ‘the calling’ – a colleague wrote about his story. He had such a great story to tell and I am glad that I got to capture an essence of his lively spirit with the photo(s) I took.

Pictured here, Albert Khoza Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Pictured here, Albert Khoza Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Last night I learnt that there might be nothing more trying than trying to take photos in a dark club. Without a flash or one of those fancy lights hitched onto the camera. I love my Ruby (my Nikon D5100) but there were points last night when I looked at people’s Canon 7D’s with longing.

All in all it has been a great week. It has been tough getting back into the swing of things but I have five fresh days coming up to try again.

The Newsroom 4.5

This week was the first that I haven’t had anything published in the paper.

I don’t or didn’t feel particularly left out or incompetent – just strange. It was weird standing on the sidelines while I subbed things for everyone else, while they filed and scheduled their articles for online.

It even felt weird putting the paper to bed on Thursday afternoon, with not one of the pages on the board bearing my byline. Strange.

However, it was nice being able to take a bit of a breather. I won’t often get to rest on my laurels in future. It was illuminating getting the rare chance to watch things happen and just observe as things unfolded in the newsroom.

That said – it was swak watching my dad looking high and low for my stories in this week’s edition. At which point I whispered that I had done some stuff online. I’m not quite sure what the whisper was for. Or maybe I do.

The Newsroom 4.0

This week was very short and therefore a little hectic in the newsroom.

We went on a ten day break, which was just what we all needed. I got to sleep for more than five hours every day, imagine that?! But that was then.

On Tuesday morning things got real again. Our news conference was a hot mess. No one pitched anything that they believed in, or anything that was super newsworthy or even the least bit juicy. This left us with a very “thin diary.”

To be completely honest I pitched nothing. I literally had nothing, save for an old story that kept being taken in and out of the Zion that is our “revised folder.” You have to understand – when your story is finally in the revised folder you are two or three clicks away from being in the paper that week. A place you really want to be.

Luckily I ended up with something to contribute to this week’s issue. I unexpectedly offered to write our Slice of Life segment. Which is exactly what the name implies, an opinion slash diary slash refection piece. I wrote about the only interesting that has happened to me in while – my graduation.

The piece was originally a blog post of mine (I say this with great confidence now that the paper has already been sent off and there is nothing that the powers that be can do to stop me – mwuhahahahaha). Obviously I edited to be fit enough for the paper (but not so much that it lost its flavour). Not because I was lazy or couldn’t find a new angle but simply because the blog post captured the way I felt and still feel about my graduation. My colleagues seemed to like it, I just hope everyone else does.

I actually haven’t been nervous about anything I have written in the paper. Now I am. My picture accompanies the article and my unbridled thoughts will be right there for everyone to see. Oh well, they best get aquainted 😉

ps – I totally dominated with design today, I really enjoy it and suspect I will be quite legendary at it soon enough.

The Newsroom 3.0

This week was a very short one. We had a three day week thanks to Human Rights Day on Thursday.

It was quite a relief to have the news conference pressure taken off our shoulders on Monday morning. Instead we went on a little field trip. This trip was a few streets down from varsity, corner Sauer and President street,

The Star.

THE STAR: "Telling it like it is and beyond" Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
THE STAR: “Telling it like it is and beyond” Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

I had been waiting for this trip for a while. I was excited to how things were run at a ‘real’ newspaper. Not to say that our paper isn’t real, but you get my drift. Upon entering the building we were handed visitors passes, some of which never made it back to reception.

I’ve only ever seen the building from the outside. I imagined that the inside would be ten times more impressive than the ginormous gold sign outside. I guess all that glitters isn’t gold.

Anyway our tour guide, Vusi,pumped us full of stats  and history as we walked through different departments in the building. The space I most enjoyed seeing was their photography room (I don’t know if they actually call it that but anyway).

We were meant to attend their news conference but that never happened. instead we had tea and biscuits then that was it. Disappointing trip really.

The highlight of the week in the newsroom came on Wednesday. Mondli Makhanya came to speak to us. He told us some of the most entertaining anecdotes from his career and offered the most inspiring pearls of wisdom.

The most memorable thing he said was that we should all retain the idealism we came into the profession with. That we shouldn’t give up on our dream to change the world with our writing, no matter how improbable it seems. I liked that.