Friday, December 29, 2006

Its been a long road

....but I am finally there. Confirmation came through that I was into 4th year a while back but in the excitement I just havent found the time to blog about it!

I am happy but also sad- one of my good friends in my class didnt make the cut. She will be finishing her degree in Joburg and I probably wont see her again for a long time. Take care Tinks if you are reading this- its the Journ School's loss, not yours.

So the email I have been waiting 3 years for:

Re: Confirmation of acceptance for JMS 4 in 2007

Dear Peter

It is with pleasure that I write to inform you that your provisional
acceptance for Journalism and Media Studies 4, in 2007 has been confirmed by
the JMS 4 Board and by Faculty.

If you will not be taking up this position, please let me know as soon as

The university's academic registration for fourth years will be on Saturday
10 February and you will be required to attend a short orientation meeting
of all JMS 4 students on Monday 12 February in the Fine Art Sculpture
lecture theatre (near the AMM building) starting at 9.00am. (Please note
that some specialisations may have an earlier starting date than this.)

We will use this meeting to register you with the department, so please
bring a passport-sized photograph of yourself.

Please note that for JMS 4, teaching continues into both June and November
swot weeks. Also, individual specialisations may require that you remain at
university during all or part of the University vacations. Please check with
your specialisation lecturers to confirm when you will be required to be at

We look forward to working with you next year. In the mean time, we hope
that you have a safe and restful vacation.

Yours sincerely,


Brian Garman
JMS 4 Coordinator
School of Journalism & Media Studies

Call me crazy but 4th year was what I signed on to do...BJourn is what I am at Rhodes to do and now I am finally there...all the way from Carol Christie and the history of the printing press in first year, my first journ course and surprisingly not my most boring one. Angelo Fick and his high brow lectures in 2nd year (where he wrote a speech for the last lecture crapping on all of us in his own way and some of the poppies in the class applauded him because they actually didn't know what he was saying) and Rod Amner's groundbreaking and highly confusing course in 3rd year- good luck with that one Rod, good luck (I did lots of other courses in the 3 years I have been doing journ but these ones stood out for me).


I think its only beginning to sink in now my friends!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I meant to blog about this ages ago...

I have been using bloglines for a while- after Gregor put me onto it when I said that I go through my blogroll every morning when I get up...but with bloglines you don't have to cos you are monitoring the feed of that blog, site etc...

What a great little app- all you need to do is download the bloglines notifier and subscribe to the feeds from the sites you want it to monitor.

The hollidays and exam results

So I have been on holliday for a week and a bit....

I have gotten zero done yet...but there is still plenty of time I suppose. Results come out either tomorrow or Friday, I am quite scared to be perfectly honest.

More on that when the results come...or is the varsity going to make us wait fucking ages like they did the last time?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Media's responsibility

I was browsing my feed from News24 this evening and found this story "Kebble: Media given a blast"....

In the story Vusi Pikoli, the head of the NPA, stated that he thought that the media had left much to be desired from their reporting on the Kebble murder case.

His main concerns were that the media were not thinking about witnesses safety when they printed their names, thus preventing other witnesses coming forward and were too quick to print information they had received as "fact".

This proves to me that some journalism basics are no longer being followed- you verify your facts with someone...or at least try to before you print them and then if you could not verify them adequately enough but still want to print them they should be clearly qualified as unverified- better yet, don't print them at all.

Pikoli implored the media not to disseminate any information that could compromise the case and not to run parallel investigations, some of which are compromising witnesses.

I find myself agreeing with Pikoli on a number of points he makes in the story and admit that there is a fine line to tread between what I term reactive journalism- journalism motivated purely by commercial imperatives- and proactive journalism- the kind that actually informs the public without harming or compromising the investigation. Fair enough, the stuff that the NPA release might be boring and drab but I really wouldn't endorse fabricating information or trying to coerce members of the NPA to give information and in so doing put their jobs on the line.

I mean, call me idealistic but I do believe that its high time the media began thinking about the effect the information they package and disseminate will be having on the bigger picture- past the fact that Kebble stories sell newspapers and draw eyes and ears to watch and listen.

However, I do think that the NPA should also come to the party a bit. I the story Pikoli states that the media should give the NPA more time to respond to questions from the media. This is all well and good but, just as the media should make allowance for the time it will take the NPA to respond, the NPA should understand that there are deadlines that need to be met and not withhold information deliberately past the deadlines etc. Pikoli's suggestion of the NPA giving the media information three or four days after it was requested it is utterly unacceptable- they should realise that this is a high profile case which has generated a lot of interest to the public (the public interest of the story is another matter entirely) and at least appoint a dedicated media liaison to deal with the media and the public, oh wait, I forgot...they are underfunded and understaffed- great, and the government want to stamp out crime....

A three to four day waiting period for information, in my view, forces a sensationalist output by the press for a public hungry for skinner hence, I feel that both sides have to respect and understand certain boundaries set by the other side.

just my 2c on the matter....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At least I got over 60%....

I suppose I should count my blessings...I got my marks back for my design portfolio and got 63%- 3% above the hallowed cut-off mark...possibly one of the lowest marks in the class if not the lowest. I feel like crap but sadly cant go to pieces emotionally and mentally yet as I have the all important Journalism exam tomorrow...I guess this is a feeble attempt to gain sympathy dear readers, but I can say that it was all my fault for getting such a dismal mark.

what probably stung most was the cutting down of most of the marks I got for my assignments by the external examiner...what a cowardly but necessary person an external examiner is- I mean, Simon and Casper were the ones who actually had to debrief me on my portfolio mark.

I just hope that my theory mark gives me over 60% overall so that I can get through to 4th year and try and salvage what dignity I have left- must start setting myself some goals now.

boo hoo for me...goodbye for now.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Big Blog Directory

Ok, so thanks to my friend Nic I found this cool blogosphere initiative! Bloggers unite, go and register your blog on this site, do it now I tell you now!!!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Antipodean Media big business

So I was lucky enough to get an internship at the The South African, a weekly newspaper which caters for South Africans living in London in January last year. The company who runs the South African also owns the New Zealand and Australian Times both weekly newspapers as well.

The reason I am blogging about this now is that I was going through the job listings on gumtree in an idle moment and came across a listing for a job at In London magazine- similar to TNT magazine, another title operating in London catering for a general Australian migrant audience- only In London aims to appeal to Australian, South African and New Zealanders living and working in London. There is also, the South African Times, a title which has been around for years and almost went bankrupt a few years ago- prompting some enterprising fellows to start the South African seeing a gap in the market.

The main problem I had with the South African is the content. It was mostly made up of stories pulled off the South African wires about South Africa and travel articles written by local South Africans as well as a smattering of entertainment news..also written either in-house or by unpaid freelancers. This was all well and good as the guys who owned the South African seemed interested only in making money, hence the ads team was twice the size of the editorial team (this seems to be standard practice at newspapers so no surprise there)...I still wouldn't have called it a newspaper- with all due respect to the editor.

But it seemed to be fine...they were making money and thats all they cared about, good on them I suppose.

In London magazine is waaay more interesting though as it has articles relevant to the Antipodeans living in London...and the stories are mainly about stuff IN LONDON and the UK! This is a glossy magazine and also seems to be doing well...clear evidence that the niche immigrant markets are alive and kicking in London with, seemingly a good, healthy ad spend for to be had and plenty of space.

What was great to see in London was the enjoyment Londoners derive from reading the newspapers. While there is a truly a plethora of titles operating and distributing in the city alone, Londoners seem to lap these up eagerly. I even saw newspapers which came with free DVDs!! Unfortunately it is rumoured that the British newspaper industry is loosing money hand over first...maybe they should cut back on those free DVDs hehe.

Anyway...enough procrastination...time for sleep!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Newsroom Management and what I wish i had known

So there I was sitting on Gregor's bed a few weeks back looking at his bookshelf as you do when you are visiting a friend and your attention wanders...and I spied a book called What the Newsroom Knows: Managing Knowledge within African Newspapers. Now, one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to borrow this book was simply because there isn't much literature revolving around African newsroom management- well, none that I have found anyway and while the book was supposed to be a case study of the use of ICTs in African newsrooms, the use of digital CM systems and the internet as well as mobile telephony it did not disappoint.

I really wish that I had had access to this book when I was still running my own newsroom at Activate. I say this because in most of the case studies in the book detailed African newsrooms which had come up against the same challenges for copy flow within their production cycle- in other words, Activate was not alone in the problems we faced. Some of these problems were as mundane as having an incoherent folder system for content on the network and one newsroom was even running computers which had several different operating systems between them- thankfully Activate did not have these particular problems although the major problem we faced early on and one which dogged just about my entire career at that newspaper was the fact that our computers were not networked to each other or the printer...when they were working of course.

I must admit I was waiting for a case study of an African newspaper who still did things the old way in their newsroom- without computers I mean...this, surprisingly was not to be and most of the African newsrooms featured in the book had been making extensive use of ICTs for many years.

What also interested me was the way that knowledge flowed around these newsrooms, how different newspapers used their diary meetings and the way they approach archiving their past editions, copy and photographs. Many newspapers had actual libraries set aside for archiving purposes (and one newspaper filed everything away- including all press releases they didn't use! wow!)

All in all, the book opened my eyes up to the fact that, even in Africa, newsrooms have become places where the digital flow of copy is inexorably tied to knowledge management within the newsroom.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I am appointed Student Editor of Jo's Toolkit

Well, Carly and Gregor, the founders of Jo's Toolkit are graduating and entering the "real world" of work and taxes and "real media" etc....

Jo's Toolkit is, without a doubt, one of the richest online journalism resources that I have ever come across. It is unique to South Africa in that its material is submitted by users of the site, industry professionals and academics alike who do this through their own goodwill and without payment. Similarly, access to the site is totally free and it is licensed under Creative Commons. Jo's Toolkit also went on to win the Highway Africa Awards for Innovative use of New Media in Africa at the Highway Africa Conference 2006.

I am therefore honoured to take up the position of student editor of Jo's Toolkit for 2006/2007.

Being student editor means that I am Jo's representative in the student media sphere, I do web maintenance, handle submissions and post things on the website- all in consultation with Gregor and Carly. I also report back the status of the site to Carly and Gregor on a quarterly basis.

It is a very exciting time at Jo's as, with Gregor and Carly moving into a new sphere, they can cultivate some excellent contacts in grassroots and online media while I can concentrate on getting more submissions from student media sources.

Onward ho!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Look (under Construction) NO HISSY FITS PLEASE!

Well as you can see I changed the look of my blog....its a work in progress as i try and figure out how Blog Beta works but its pretty cool so I will hopefully have everything all well and good soon.

Re: The tiff over changing the blogs looks between two people on the blogosphere (you know who you are) the changes I have made to my blog have nothing to do with the fact that everyone who is anyone seems to be tinkering with their blog's look. I simply upgraded to beta, had a rush of blood to the head and decided to change how things looked, ok?

Peace and good night to you all, thank you!

Monday, November 06, 2006

First exam down

I wrote the design exam today....the first section was a bit whack and the answers tended to overlap which was a bit of a bugger but anyway, the rest of the exam wasnt so bad....its over and now its 15 days till my next exam whoo hoo!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Water, water everwhere....

Well, the water has been back on for a few days now but has been muddy and murky...apparently toxic. But, according to my uncle (who is a plumber in town and knows about such things) they put a chemical into the water to separate out the mud and the sludge and the drain the water off.

Now, someone left the wrong valve open and let all of that sludge into the system hence causing the murkiness. 35,000 fish dies at the Ichthyology department prompting a muted panic to go up over the alleged "toxicity" of the this my uncle said "of course the fish died...its like breathing soup to them"

Anyways, my water seems to be back to normal now...still drinking bottled water for a while though!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Our farm

For all of you who want to have a sneak peak at our farm :-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The South African National Student Editor's Forum

I have recently been appointed as the organiser and convener of the 2007 Captivate Student Media Conference. One of the ways I want to begin to craft a vision for the conference is by hearing from those who were there this year and what improvements can be made over and above my own thoughts for how the conference should be run.

To this end Gregor, Carly and I have launched an online forum powered by Jo's Toolkit as a starting point for discussions, not only about the conference and its future, but also about the state of student media in South Africa today.

I am hoping that in the next few weeks we will see most of the editors from the campus media around the country sign up and start giving us their input.

No Water....some electricity

Now, I know I know we live in Africa and I know that there are millions of people on the continent without water but dammit I miss having running water in my place. This is the kind of infrastructure that we have in Grahamstown: There is a big storm that lasts all of 10 minutes...a pipe feeding the reservoir bursts and the water turns to mud as it is literally from the bottom. Here at Worcester Mews we don't have ANY water as we are too far away from said reservoir to get any with the pumps turned off..dang nambit all!

Then a thought struck me....

The guys in the hole fixing the pipe probably don't have running water in their houses, just like the pump attendants at the petrol station don't own cars and most of the people forced to wait tables for a living cant even afford to go and eat at the restaurants they work at!

Makes me think how lucky I am that even though they said it would take another two days to fix the problem...I would get water back at the end of it!

The official word is that it is not a burst pipe at all! The water shortage is in fact due to the main pumping station not having power...they still dont know why and they tell us that it will take them 2 days to fix- 2 DAYS!!!! I mean, I am certain I am missing somthing but surely its a case of find loose wires and then connect them?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ok ok so I took the pirate test

Everyone else seemed to be doing it (I deny the washing thing though- I wash plenty of times a day!) :-P

My pirate name is:

Dirty Roger Flint

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Monday, October 23, 2006

A quick newsflash! *Wank Alert*

I have been provisionally accepted into 4th year design!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!! Now all I need to do is get over 60% in the exam at the end of the year and I am in for real! 4th year here I come! :-)


Sunday, October 15, 2006

My opinion on the state of student media

I feel that student media has not yet come into its own in the New South Africa. The current student media landscape is fragmented at all levels and is still not being taken seriously at most campuses around the country, nor is it being seen as an excellent tool of learning for aspiring journalists, because, lets face it, thats what nearly all student journalists want to become- journalists in the "real world."

However, to be take seriously student media need to give the powers that reasons to begin taking notice of whats going on in the campus newsrooms and radio studios nationally. We, as student journalists should strive to improve the quality of our media output, we should strive to become a staple on our campuses for news, information and entertainment and we should stand together as a media fraternity which stands with one foot in the dynamic world of "doing real media" with the other foot firmly in a learning space.

But how do we do this? A good starting point would be to see our experiences at campus media as part of our journalism studies- not something outside of it. We should approach working on campus as a means to apply what you learnt in your journalism lectures immediatly and to explore it in the media sandbox that are campus newspapers and radio stations. From there, more dialogue between media academics and students can be facilitated, possibly with training workshops being run and one-on-one converstations with these academics. I firmly believe that we should squeeze these people for as much knowledge as possible because they ceratinly aren't teaching journalsim and media studies for nothing.

Also, inter-campus co-operation could facilitate the solidaity and unity of the student media fraternity with websites like jostoolkit and being at the forefront of this.

I salute you my fellow student journalists, but I have sadly run out of time at the moment. See y'all later!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Its been nearly a year+ a little rant

Well, very nearly a year...not exactly since I last blogged. A lot has happened since then: I got into my third year elective- Communication design, I worked at Cue newspaper for a second year in a row and finished up my (rather eventuful) year as Editor-in-Chief of Activate, the student newspaper at Rhodes.

But I know I have been a bad blogger *slaps self on wrists* I solemnly promise to post at least one post a day here!

In other news *rant alert* a new student newspaper will be starting next year...with an "Oppie flavour" to it...

Now, normally I would welcome a new newspaper on campus- the view I always took was that the more voices there were the better in terms of newspapers and there were two others during my my time as editor (the Edge which died and currently a mag called Excess) Both of these publications made no official statement to the effect that they were actually in opposition to Activate. Instead they chose to appeal to other markets on campus and we all co-existed together.

Enter Lionel Faull and Innes Schumacher

Now before you judge me too much on what I am going to say about these two and their ideas I want to give you some background on my experience interacting with them...just for a bit of context and I think its time to come clean about this whole thing.

I met Lionel on the first day of my editorship- he was appointed as the Features editor and was a newcomer to the team. In his interview with Bianca, my deputy editor, and I he offered us help if we needed it in running the newspaper...excuse me? Without sounding too arrogant, I want to make it clear that I feel I was appointed becausei could do the job and the way Lionel went about "offering his help" was very strange indeed. I continued to have problems with Lionel throughout the year as his section members complained about his leadership style a lot.

In my opinion, he does not have much in the way of people skills.

Lionel then applied for the position of editor and was turned down for numerous reasons, reasons I am not going to go into here. We then offered him the position of editorial consultant which he accepted but later resigned on some quite confusing grounds...I am really not sure of the whole story there.

Innes, I met when she demanded to meet us and questioned the authority of the executive committee at Activate. I was highly irritated by this and her personality continues to. Lionel and Innes are romantically involved and she was a member of the features team under him (excuse the pun). This might not have been a problem if it hadnt affected the way Lionel ran his team...

Innes then applied for Features editor and was turned down after much heated debate among the selection committee- it was a tough decision and I stand by that, even if she thought we were only trying to make her feel better by saying that.

So neithe Innes and Lionel got the jobs they what do they do? They make plans to start a new student newspaper on campus.

Like i said before, I really wouldnt have had a problem with this if they had gone about it in the right way- if you really look at it they arent really in opposition to Activate as they want to cater for Oppies and "others" and they want to look "outside of campus" rather than reporting exclusively on the Rhodes community.

I also question their motives for doing this...there seems to be an immense amount of sour grapes about the whole thing and the fact that they are keeping quiet about how they are actually going to do this makes me wonder if they even know themselves.

Running a newspaper isnt easy...and it seems they are going to find that out the hard way.