Okay I might have added some spices in that headline, what I mean to say is ‘Let the in-depth games begin’.
Today was our first real introduction to our in-depth projects. A month dedicated to writing and producing in-depth features on a certain topic.
This year’s topic is China–Johannesburg – a look at the Chinese diaspora in this city. A topic that didn’t come as a surprise to most of us because there was a leak (journalists, can’t tell them anything).
We were all divided into groups, each getting a sub-topic and a mentor. My group got given the topic ‘history and the future’ – a topic I begin to appreciate more and more as the day went on. Our mentor is the one and only, Kenichi Serino (yays).
Basically what we have to do over the next four weeks is immerse ourselves fully in this community in order to produce a long form feature with multimedia components (ranging from video, photography, audio and and and).
Our prep consisted of a number of guest speakers to give us some background and advice on our topic. It was a long day but a very informative one. Ideas were coming in and out of my mainframe all day. Especially because a bulk of what the speakers had to say touched heavily on my group’s topic.
Hearing the stories about the realities of being a migrant and of life in China made it abundantly clear that the next month would be an enlightening one. In a real and genuine way, in a way that would bring me closer and deeper than any documentary or article could.
My favourite quote from the day came from Emma Chen, owner of restaurant Red Chamber in Rosebank, she said: “Nobody dislikes the Chinese government as much as the Chinese themselves”. A loaded statement, that left me with much to think about (and investigate).
Tomorrow we have a field trip planned, I can barely contain my excitement. Let the adventure begin J
This little thing called life got in the way of me posting a ‘best reads’post last week, I will not let this thing called life do that to me again.
Last week was one of the last editions we’ll produce in a while, so it was jam packed with copy to feed the appetites of our readers.
Here are some of my personal highlights from the edition:
EFF triggers PYA exodus by Thuleto Zwane. One would imagine that it would take more than kitch red berets to sway comrades’ alliances, one would be wrong. I kid, I kid. Interesting to see how quickly the new political party is gaining ground among some students.
Dr Last loses by Shandukani Mulaudzi. Things came full circle last week when a verdict was reached regarding our supposed ethical misdemeanour with one of our sexual harassment stories. Good to know that even back then our ethics were intact.
Wits improves in world rankings by Dineo Bendile. Since my first year of studying at Wits I have been one of its most ardent supporters. Defending it left, right and centre at braai’s and other such gatherings. It’s good to know that we are indeed getting better as an institution and that I can brag even more 😉
Enjoying food that has roots by Mfuneko Toyana. For no other reason than the deliciousness that came from this meeting. Glad I got to tag along and literally get a taste of Kenya.
“Go see Josh” by Sibusisiwe Nyanda. Lovely and inspirational story about weight loss. Josh had me going til he mentioned something about no carbs, that’s when I knew I couldn’t do what he did. But inspirational nonetheless.
Witsie bail-out by Nolwazi Mjwara. A look at the contentious issue of students on campus being bailed out of jail by the university.
Survivor: ANN7 edition by Nokuthula Manyathi. Another one I got to sit in on last week. It was interesting to hear first-hand how things are going over at ANN7. The tweets weren’t lying.
The week that was is somewhat of a blur. Feels like it took a short Usain Bolt like sprint and before I knew it, here I am on a Sunday afternoon trying to string together something semi interesting to write.
Monday morning is a haze of people typing frantically, in 11th hour attempts to get features done. I wished I could have joined in on the madness but I had already accepted that it was late for me, very late.
Later that morning we had to take a crack at writing travel features with Fred de Vries. He made us go to a mall, preferably one we had never visited before and take notes that would bring that mall to life. I went to the newly opened Oliven Plaza and man did I see some interesting things, hope it came out in the feature I managed to write.
That afternoon I dashed off to a Right2Know protest outside Luthuli House. Protesters were appealing to president Jacob Zuma, to ask for the Protection of State Information Bill to be taken back to parliament for some revision. I cause I would expect any media practitioner to support, this expectation was quickly dashed upon arrival.
We stood with some journalists and photographers from The Times and SAPA, they were obviously disappointed by the dismal turn out at the protest – granted. What I didn’t understand was their attitude towards the protest itself. There were scoffs, sighs and comments about what a waste of time the whole thing was. One photographer condescendingly said, “How many of these people (the protesters) have even read or really know what the Secrecy Bill is about?” he quickly went on to answer is own question “Only the journalists do,” he said with a chuckle.
I was like whaaaaat?! These people are gathered here to defend your right to do your job mister (all in my head of course, and in a tweet later that night). I suppose it was just disappointing to find out that some of the people we look up to are so jaded. Anyway I managed to get some great pictures and that’s all that mattered that day.
On Tuesday we had guest speaker Phillip Altbeker come in to discuss movie reviews with us. We wrote reviews on a movie the whole class went to watch a few weeks prior, Of Good Report. There were no comments on our work but he did say, “These will probably be the first and the last reviews you write.” I suppose that says it all doesn’t it?
From then on, the chase was one. One story after another had me going to and from the department. Another 12 pager was on the cards so we all had to do best. We were much more efficient than we have ever been come production time. I suppose being shouted at will do that to you. Needless to say we only missed deadline by a smidge and for the first time in a long time, I got home before the sun went down J
Friday was the best day of the whole week. It started off with a trip to Engineers Breakfast to get some good photographs, which we managed to do. Fomo hit us hard when we had to leave, we also wanted to sit under a gazebo, with meat on the coals and not a care in the world.
But we couldn’t, we had to rush off of to a guest photography lecture. I was very grateful for once it had ended, it might be one of the best lectures we have ever had. We got to see some of the meaningful work people are doing out there, as clichéd as it is pictures really are worth a thousand words.
Later that evening we had a braai and piss up of our own (that’s not very pc is it) oh well, we did and it was great. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, man I love my team *Drizzy voice*
(My random numbering now coincides with the month we are in so hey, so why not stay with the 8 point something’s?)
I woke up five minutes before my alarm was due to ring last week Monday. I couldn’t keep in the excitement any longer I guess. I swung my wee legs out of the warm cocoon that was my bed and braved the cold all smiles to get ready for my week ahead as editor.
I welcomed everyone on the 19th voyage upon the Vuvuzela express at news conference later that morning and just like that the week was in full swing.
We had our first feature workshop on that same day, an hour or two dedicated to criting our feature writing work. I loved this process because gaps I might have never even seen where pointed out and will make for a better feature when I re-write it.
In an odd turn of events we had to distribute the newspaper on Monday because of the public holiday the Friday before. 1pm came, 3pm strolled in and by 5pm we still had no Vuvuzela’s to hand out. Distribution then turned into a two day mission but it got done in the end.
We had two other guest speakers on Tuesday morning, meaning our Vuvu day only started at about lunch time. There we were typing and chatting away in the newsroom, when someone ran in telling us that there was a fire on the 15th floor.
Being the people we are, two of us grabbed our cameras, the other a notebook and off we ran to try and get the story. By the 14th floor we were inhaling the smoke fumes but still trying to get closer for that perfect shot. We were chased away but came back about 5 minutes later. Found out that there had been a fire in one of the lifts. You know, the one we take every day. The evacuation made for an unproductive afternoon.
Wednesday morning saw 7 team vuvu members heading to Orange Farm to help out with something the Wits Justice Project was doing in the area. That plus two people off sick, made for a very empty newsroom. Copy came in very slowly, causing a few tempers to flare.
As usual I dibsed the photo spread page, the lack of fast copy got us the Oppi page we wanted *boogies*
Production did not run smoothly at all but as usual it all came together in the end. The following morning we had a bit of a design workshop with Irwin Manoim, I found it quite helpful.
Later that night I went off to the “We are going to kill each other today: The Marikana Story” – a collection of photographs and stories by a group of journalists and photographers. The event was held at the Old Fort at Constitutional Hill, on the exact date that marked a year since the massacre happened. It was quite overwhelming seeing the photographs taken at Marikana while standing in what used to be an apartheid jail. Death was all around us.
I wanted to leave early to see my parents off but decided to stay on to watch some of the concert. I did for a while but the cold got to me and managed to catch a ride back to campus. I was really excited to go home to a hot meal and my warm bed.
Those thoughts all came to an abrupt halt when a black figure decided to break my car window and steal my backpack. The backpack with my DSLR camera and wallet in it. In the moment I froze and couldn’t accelerate like my mind was telling me to.
Long story short, I picked up new bank cards and got a new window fitted today. What a way to end what was an amazing week.
This week’s paper came out a little later than usual, hence that lead to delayed reading of all the copy.
But now that I have, here are this week’s best reads:
Cheers, I’ll drink to that by Liesl Frankson. This was one of the first ‘fun’ front page stories we have had all year. It was a refreshing read and I’m glad it got to go on the front page. Also love the picture that went with it.
Transie Missions by many (lol). This was a collaborative photo spread done by a few of us in the newsroom. I love any and all photo spreads that go in the paper because I’m down with photos like that :p
The power of woman by Prelene Singh. This piece spoke to the other side of the Vavi scandal. Probably an unpopular debate to have with it being women’s month but an important one I rate.
Supreme Failure by Emelia Mostai and Shandukani Mulaudzi. This breaking news story looks at a high school across the road from us; parents and students complained about the lack of teaching staff for grade 12 learners. The publishing of the story has led to the Department of Education promising to visit the school tomorrow to assess the situation. The efforts of great journalism.
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:
Doing a spread this time was a little more difficult because most people just didn’t want to be photographed. But eventually the rejections started bouncing off of us and we managed to get the above shots, and tie in little stories on the side.
Somewhere in between chasing down people for these photo’s and preparing myself for Oppikoppi, I wrote my first football story. Well to call it a story would be a stretch, it was more of a score update than anything else, but alas a football piece nonetheless. Read it here: Scoring boots lift Wits
We also handed in our first submissions for feature writing. We were tasked with writing news features, I would put it up but it was terrible so maybe I’ll put up the next one.
I am enjoying feature writing a whole lot, especially because it really gives one the opportunity to ‘play’ wit their words a bit. Our guest speaker for the week was Toby Shapshak, editor of Stuff magazine, He was a riot.
Every guest lecture we have makes me want to delve deeper into the deep, murky waters of features. Just this morning we had Mia Malan from the Mail & Guardian come in to talk about health features – her stories alone left us all in awe of the power of feature writing.
If you give my blog half a glance you’ll know that I went to my first Oppikoppi festival as well this past week, the posts are all over my blogs and there is still more to come. I have loads of pictures to edit and notes to go through, but this is definitely one of my faves that I have managed to edit so far and as such is winner of “Snap of the week”
In much more exciting news I get to be the editor this week, yays! Hope to deliver an absolutely awesome newspaper this week, wish me (us) luck 🙂