Mar 19, 2013

Keep it moving kid!

Greetings :)

So here I am again to give a double packed glimpse into the developing facets of being a journalist. We are well aware that the realm of journalism has experienced a number of changes that have come to affect the popularity of various mediums. Newspapers are suffering in circulation numbers as the development of web based journalism has taken lead. The audiences that we now cater to are for more interested in fast, integrated and social news content. This pushes the role of the journalist to a great extent and as a television student the words, "mobile journalist" have come to mean so much to the work I would produce. This phrase introduces the use of smartphone technologies in a way that allows for more people to have access to the information one produces. The number of people who are now able to share their experiences have doubled. And as a journalist it only makes sense that we take lead in using these devices to provide integrated information for our audience members.
The revolution of communication has taken a five step move to where we are at the moment. From the debut of hard copy, the development of the Gutenberg press to the rise of television (my absolute fav), the internet and then the rise of mobile communication. We can already tell that we have moved pretty fast as a modern society, which only emphasises the need for journalists to take lead in these technologies. The age of convergence pushes the journalist to make use of their smartphone technologies such as the I-phone to make spectacular work. The use of these devices allows for one to come in close with a particular action and take to the streets without people being reluctant to share with the journalist. Composition becomes an imperative skill that gives ones images far more life and be an active journalist that documents their world.
With so many web-based technologies, journalists are able to bring something of their own to the table. The world of blogging can be great in being a platform for images and video images to be shared. Conversations can be facilitated by the journalist themselves and soon enough one may have a following which could translate to greater credibility as a mobile journalist. Twitter, is really one of the most dynamic and fastest growing social networks that has lead the distribution of news. This minute by minute documentation pushes us as budding journalists to be fast and also informed. Twitter followers appear far more motivated by journalists who are able to tweet interesting information that is current due to the fast nature of Twitter. Just like in television, you are motivated by the fact that someone can easily turn off the TV or change the channel, one can lose or gain followers just as easily on Twitter.
Mobile technology calls for immediacy and for the story to be visually told and that there is an element of play as the mobile journalist needs to give the public something extra. This is because it is so easy for anyone to break story as the public sphere is equipped with these technologies that it is the job of the journalist to then push for something extra. To do the further research which will give context to the stories in a way that is better than the next journalist. Technologies such as the Go-Pro is a camera device that can give first person view and aerial view of a particular scene which would give so much nuance to the kind of coverage of particular events. The age of convergence calls for connectivity and creativity that can make use of these technologies in a way the stimulate audiences. If we zoom with our feet we are well on our way, so pick up that smartphone and play.

 My next focus is a brief look at the world of court reporting. Our class had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from David Macgregor who is a freelance writer for the Daily Dispatch and has had a great deal of experience covering many stories in the Eastern Cape.
The world of court reporting is often a very daunting space for new journalists; however the primary piece of advice was that one should, “act as if they are meant to be there until you get kicked out”.  Through a humorous sharing of his experiences it is evident that the court will always provide a story. It is the choices of the journalist to pick something that will be refreshing for the reader/viewer and make that story come alive in a simple and approachable manner. In understanding the basic proceedings the journalist should perhaps acquaint themselves with terminology used in the court so that accurate reporting takes place. If one uses the court roll one can know which cases are coming up and therefore look up particular jargon that can help the reporter disseminate the information.
With the use of mobile technologies one can use twitter in disseminating information on the high profile/ well known cases that are in the interest of the public. Within the courtroom space one should not be shy to ask for names of particular individuals while also adhering to court regulations that hinder the release of some names.
In a simply delivered presentation Macgregor highlighted the key point which is that the court can be a wonderful starting point to finding out so many stories. The stories that are also untold can be found in the courts and one should exercise their right to be in space and practice till court reporting is just as easy as turning a newspaper.

from the creaks of the cottage.xx

Mar 12, 2013

Down tools and misconceptions!


“ Amandla! Ngawethu!”

This phrase is one very common to many South Africans as protest and strike action is a common feature of our landscape. Media coverage of most strike action tends to be quite sensationalised and filled with headlines that emphasis the chaos and violence that may occur.

So when we were given a lecture on the intricacies of strike reporting by a very dynamic labour lawyer, I was blown at how much there is to this facet of reporting.

The right to strike is one enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa. Strike action serves as an essential tool in collective bargaining. Within this process, the employer is bound to bargain more fairly as it balances the chance of the employer to make independent decisions that may affect the workers. Therefore, the first misconception that plagues civil society is that that a strike is in fact illegal. This is not is the case rather the strike may not be protected. In order for a strike to be classified as lawful/protected it must be in line with the Labour Relations Act definition of a strike. This definition includes the need to induce an answer. Strikers must all know the common cause of the strike and there has to a definite ability to end the strike action. If a strike does not fit this definition it is an abuse of strike rights. This gives the employer the right to dismiss any employees who partake in an unprotected strike.

As mentioned previously, when strike action occurs (well the ones that are more inclined to sell newspapers or guarantee viewers- as strikes happen often but only a few receive wild media attention) there is a great deal of sensationalised information. Problems in representation are always an issue as media personal are more inclined to approach and have bias toward corporations and little conversation is had with the people who are actually striking. There can be no general theory of what causes strikes. One must also realise that it is always in the best interest of the employer to exaggerate the amount of damage that is caused in a strike. Therefore one is to be sceptical about the information released/covered during the time of strike. A recent example would be what occurred in Marikana last year. However another thing that journalists and civil society should be aware of, are the kind of statistics that are thrown around during a time of strike. These are usually gathered in a way that can fit in a certain reason for the strike action.  One must remember that strike action is very multi-layered entity.
There are also different kinds of strikes, such as:

·         Offensive economic strikes: This is not limited to money but also places emphasis on leave time too. There is a concern for better hours of work and working conditions.

·         Defensive frictional strikes: These are responses to unfair management conduct. These include a change in employment conditions, supervision and the like.

·         Solidarity –building strikes: These promote the need aims of the union in trying to accomplish recognition from the employer.

·         General strikes: This includes a large number of workers from varying industries against the conditions in the labour environment.

Other forms of industrial action are often left out of the coverage in contemporary media. Some of these include, “go-slows” which is the deliberate retardation of work. Sit-in would be where employees occupy a common space within the office space. Other versions include work stoppage; this is a refusal to which then goes against the parameters set up by the Labour Laws.

It appears that with so many facets that make up the world of strike action. It would appear that the media has done well to misinform the public space. If a reported where to get acquainted with the rights and parameters that are given to workers, perhaps issues of representation would not be the one of the biggest issues that plagues the media realm.

from the creaks of the cottage.xx

Mar 4, 2013

1,2,3 Action!

Greetings :)
As a little girl who was always glued to the television no matter what was playing, watching the news on all “government channels” soon became part of my daily activity. Since those days of being glued to the television I would have not guessed that I too would be running around the little town of Grahamstown lugging around camera equipment in order to shoot a news clip of my own.  This rather intimidating task started with a step by step proposal stating what the story would cover and the relevance that it would have to the kind of news that is within the public sphere currently. And with such a dynamic society that we South Africans have, it wasn’t long till I had figured what story would be investigated.
In light of all the media attention that has circled around the high rape statistics that the country has and the on going outcry against the growing numbers, I could only think of my own experience of working with a former prisoner who had been acquitted for the that particular crime. My colleague, had been quite open about the details of his arrest and found a sense of growth and responsibility from his days as youngster and is very willing to take responsibility for the actions that had occurred. Now, within a public sphere where the dominant discourse see’s the male as the sole predator (which of course is highly validated looking at out statistics), it can only pose the question: Can men can change? Could someone charged with such a heavy crime re-integrate in society and lose the “ex-convict” profile.
With the largest population of prisoners in Africa, it is interesting to focus on the rehabilitation process of prisoners once released. The view of the released prisoner is key to view as, this citizen is often ostracised and is given very little opportunity to contribute to the development of the economy. So the process of rehabilitation became a point of focus for this story. By looking at the progress my colleague has made through the use of theatre, we look at how someone has worked to redevelop themselves and work against the common thought that one person is not able to change. These questions are all in light of the current outcry against the rape of Anene Booysen in Bredesdorp.
With such a sensitive and nuanced topic, it is interesting to look at notions of objectivity within a South African context. Objectivity has long been a standard principle of the model journalist. However with the kind of complexities and varying notions people have in entering the profession of journalism, objectivity is hard to achieve. This is due to varying experience and notions that influence how it is one is to write a story and articulate a particular thought. For instance within my story it is very important to present objectivity in representation, but of course my having worked with the subject makes my take on the story a little different to the journalist who is meeting, “the ex-convict”. What matters the most are facts and how those are presented for the reader to comprehend. The notion of objectivity was first comprehended as just giving each subject in the story, equal time. However, as time changes, the different generations redevelop that thought and the role of objectivity is once again blurred and disfigured.
In thinking about what one of our lecturers, Paul Hills highlighted, the changing traditions of the media and the notions of objectivity are what media practitioners need to understand. That way there is no mystified view of what one is doing within society. The role of the media and openness that may have occurred in 1980s and what very different to what the media experiences now. One could go as far as to say that an anti-media movement is in the works as citizens are far more aware of the role of the media and how images can be subverted. There is a greater call for financial compensation from sources which makes the notion of objectivity a blurred notion as people are aware of the dependency that the media has on the people rather than the other way around.
It is therefore so important for the budding journalist to internalise the news very differently by looking at varying perspectives. One needs to interrogate the kind of coverage that takes place and in that make the news a varied nuanced experience. In light of all the conversations around rape culture one needs to have everyone sitting at the table. No matter how repulsive and tense conversations are, the public sphere then becomes an equal one which motivated my particular choice.
From the creeks of the cottage

Feb 26, 2013

Accountability: Our civil duty

Greetings J

This past week, I had the opportunity to further my knowledge in the sources that one could utilise in understanding the functions of the public institutions from the view of a wildly respected service provider known as the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM). Established, in 1999 this organisation works to improve public service delivery through the use of accountability monitors. There is also a concern for the use of public resources. Through these accountability monitors PSAM works to progressively protect, and realise the constitutional rights that citizens are entitled to. Within PSAM there are three core elements of focus within the organisation where employees are allocated. The two areas of focus include: monitoring and advocacy programme and regional learning programme. In a climate where public institutions appear for to fall short in the fulfilment of their duties, a very close relationship with organisations such as PSAM is key in being an active citizen and thorough journalist.
As part of understanding the intentions and missions that centre the work of PSAM it is helpful to understand and familiarise yourself with the social accountability system in relation to the state. This is a plan which attempts to structure the process of accountability. The fundamental spheres of this process being, 1) Planning and resources management 2) Expenditure management 3) Performance management 4) Public integrity and finally the last being, 5) Oversight. These processes are fully explained here; such a break down can help any citizen or journalist to unpack the effectiveness of any policy or programme set up by the state.
What became quite apparent in the discussion that occurred around the work of PSAM is that there is very little knowledge of what it is that the structures of local government, municipal councillors, and ward committees are obliged to do.  The results found in the Eastern Cape from the 2011 Census which documented 25% of homes in the region going without electricity., proving a need for accountability and proper management of the public institution in charge of generating power. In such instances there needs to be distinct follow up in the work of various committees and the recommendations particular committee’s may make. Examples include the municipal committee which is required to approve budgets, charge service fees for water and elect while also making sure are actually given the service. Minutes to meetings and access particular documentation are requirements that journalists should and have to be aware of. In getting to know the kind of ward councillors that head up the committees, in depth information about their interests must be put forward in a declaration. It is key that such information is made accessible in order to ensure that any working relationships with specific companies won’t result in the misuse of state funds for personal use
Corruption seems to be a prominent buzz word in our public sphere. The role of the journalist has really become far more complex in that one needs to aware of the key sources that can help identify the operation of corruption. Take for example the constantly sought after tender. According to the constitution, the process of giving out tenders (otherwise known as procurement of goods and services) needs to be awarded on a “fair, equitable and transparent” basis. When a possible tender is available there has to be a public declaration for the opportunity to receive the tender. If the information for the tender is not public or adequately advertised this can be the first port of call in questioning how fair or transparent the process has been. Quite often there can be a conflict of interest in such transactions as stakeholders involved with the tender could easily ensure that that the tender is given to someone who has the ability to provide benefits for the stakeholders. Therefore by using the Promotion of Public Access to Information act one is able to see particular documentation that would help such an investigation.
In the efforts to try promote a public sphere with adequate information there are a number of sites which are focused on the supply of information and other independent organisations who work to track the actions within the state.
These include:
Organisations such as SALGA work to represent and promote the interests of local government and encourage local government to fulfil its particular mandates. COGTA is an organisation which works to develop national policy law for local government and monitors its implementation. In line with the financial management and the auditing of municipal issues we have the employees of the Auditor General of SA who issue a report on such issues.
With the use of all these organisations who help flesh out the basics in terms of the duties expected and the other organisations who work to follow up the work of varying public institutions it is clear that the public sphere and the role of the citizen can be shifted, given the adequate tools.
from the creaks of the cottage :)

Feb 19, 2013

Know your space

Greetings :)

So its been a while since I have posted but I thought I should kick off with a little look at the developments and aspects of my career of choice, that being television journalism.
In an ever changing and dynamic socio-political climate within South Africa, the role of the budding journalist or media practitioner is often never one dimensional. Quite recently it dawned on me fully that addressing the complexities of our space whether it be the political, economic or socially based will be the thing that keeps the journalism industry alive. Within an era where secrecy bills loom and the limitation of press freedom is on the cards many comments on the role of journalists have come to attention. One particular criticism that circulates the public sphere is the lack in knowledge that journo’s have in how institutional structures that make up our cities/towns work. Rather than just reporting and parroting the press releases that will soon flood our inboxes perhaps a little further knowledge in how the municipality works for instance would be ideal.
Municipal reporting is an area of expertise I genuinely underestimated more so in the small valley of Grahamstown. However on Friday, Grocotts municipal reporter, Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko revealed the intricacies of the very source oriented practice of municipal reporting. It would it appear that the traditional skill of getting contacts and networking with the right people would serve one greatly when dealing with the Makana Municipality.

This municipality finds itself located in South Africa's poorest province of the Eastern Cape where
economic disparities are wildly evident. The geography that Grahamstown presents,only accentuates "the other" as one half enjoys a rather efficient and co-operative service from the municipality while "the other" continues to struggle and also operate quite independently from the streuctures  protected by Rhodes University.

The vision of the municipality reads:

"We shall strive to ensure sustainable, affordable, equitable and quality services in a just, friendly, secure and healthy environment, which promotes social and economic growth for all."
This vision already presents the toughest task for the municipality in an environment that has so many complexities. However it is only knowledge of the systems that can allow for adequate commentary on the operation of such an institution. Which leads us to the return of citizen and more so journalistic inquiry.

When approaching the municipality in line with any issues related to the varying wards that make up Grahamstown it is important to understand the issues that actually fall under the mandate of the municipality. With various issues being a provincial issue such as crime and education for instance, a journalist would do well to read up on the varying departments that the municipality has and come informed.
The municipality has long been this distant figure that cant appear to get anything right within this little valley as we witness a number of the basic services such as adequate sanitation being a luxury to the bulk of the residents of the town. Which then made the Integrated Development Plan(IDP) that Mngitama-Diko highlighted as an on-going project within Makana, far more intresting as a starting point for finding out the developments that have been made in line with the aspirations of the IDP. A community member to municipality  consultation process is one that is often encouraged and advertised as a working organism. However the biggest problems that one may find is the lack within that fundamental communication.
The ability to engage with documentation on the website is a basic right that we are as journalists need to take hold of and become the active citizens in using the channels placed by the institution and from understanding the process then allow for the struggles and experiences of the people to then be shared. None of this though has any bearing without understanding the way in which
things work.

Mngitama-Diko used a particular word which resonates with the intention behind the kind of socio-politically orientated news I aim to produce at some stage. The word was,"witness". The desire to investigate and see rather than allowing for the press release to be the foundation of a particular story. Which then brings the return back to inter-personal contact within this particular industry as the practice of telephonic interviews and churnalism (merely churning the information that is provided in press releases and the like) has taken the value away from first hand witnessing of news.The ability to engage with the people who make the decisions within the space you reside in is fundamental in building a working relationship with those you will need in providing commentary.

Often, the portrayal of news from the heights of the clock tower and Journalism department can often provide information that is heavily plagued with middle class concerns and dissemination of news is often problematic. It is then also within that space that the inter-personal relationships with community members be adjusted drastically. Municipal issues are generally those that affect personal living conditions and in order to report adequately I feel its only necessary to understand and "witness" the space that one investigates.

With the presentation of numerous names and contact details that Mngitama-Diko shared it is evident that the interest in learning and approaching the right people will get the work done for the information and stories lie at every street corner. However it is the incentive of the budding journo to get up and inquire and more so to cross over the safety net and interact with the space and people who govern.
from the creaks of the cottage.xx

from the creaks of the cottage.xx

Apr 30, 2012

Joshua Bennet- thats all you need.


Joshua Bennett. This young man makes me so excited about thought, words and the sentiments that carry the delivery of those elements.He is a poet who is part of the Strivers Row and it is group of talented young people who are pushing their passions through words, song, photography etc. Its really inspirational. They seem to have established great relations with filmmakers too which is wonderful because the collaborations are looking stellar.

Here is piece by Joshua Bennett entitled "Balaenoptera"

Have a great day.

from the creaks of the cottage.xx

A Norwegian treat for the heart.

Greetings :)

This past month I was introduced to such a lovely and  beautiful artist. By the name of, Mikhael Paskalev this musician has come to gain some popularity over the last year or so and I have been bonding with two specific songs. The videos for these songs are also great. His music tends to be defined as indie pop and highly influenced by folk music as you will be able to tell.  His debut album is said to be still in the making. Looking forward to some great work and visual concepts.

I hope these video's make you happy. They really do a lot for my heart.

1) I Spy - A good pick me up song in the month of May :)

2) Susie - This one hear just really makes me happy. Love the simplicity of the video.

from the creaks of the cottage.xx