Tuesday, October 23, 2018


All the latest journalism from the Rhodes TV3 class

Archive for the ‘Wednesday’ Category

It wasn\’t easy, but it was hope that pulled us through

By: Bongeka Gumede and Nonceba Mhlauli

Working with Andile Nayika was a challenging yet fulfilling and rewarding experience for us. He was eager to learn yet highly constrained by time and other commitments and this posed a great problem for us in the beginning. As time went on however, we became accustomed to his time schedule and managed to work around this issue.

The first time we met Andile he seemed quiet, reserved and very busy. Having recently been promoted from being a citizen journalist to an intern, he appeared as though he was too pre-occupied with trying to find his feet as a new intern at Grocotts Mail. We suffered from time constraints. Since Andile had recently lost his phone we also lacked a video camera which was needed for his stories and furthermore, as a consequence of having no phone there was a communication barrier which meant that we could not easily get a hold of him. In spite of all these obstacles, we overcame and managed to complete the tasks laid before us as a team.

From our very first meeting with Andile it was evident that he had a lot of knowledge about news and journalism in general, he had many great story ideas however they were only conducive for newspaper articles and we had to assist him to channel his mind towards story ideas which would be rich in visual content. We had to encourage him to move away from stories that contained a lot of facts which could only be expressed in words and to focus on the visual element of a story instead.

Andile’s interest in stories pertaining to service delivery issues took us by surprise. We expected him to be an arts-oriented person since we were aware of his love for poetry and other forms of entertainment as well as interest in youth issues. He felt very strongly about the fact that the children in his neighbourhood are forced to play near a dumpsite due to lack of recreational facilities and we encouraged him to pursue this story.

Once Andile had decided on a story we shared our knowledge of how to make a video with him. We told him the basics about the five-shot rule, the rule of thirds and how to shoot good sequences. We taught him how important the elements of sound and lighting are in a video as well as how to ensure that the sound and the light came out right in a video. He grasped the concepts easily and this understanding was reflected in the first piece that he was assigned to do. We were pleased with the outcome of his 10 second video clip as well as the blurb which accompanied it.

For the second assignment we had to assist Andile to produce a 30 second- 1minute clip and for this task, he chose to expand on his dumpsite story which we thought was a good idea. Unfortunately, however, it became very difficult to get a hold of Andile after the first assignment and once we did get a hold of him we could not set up a time convenient for all of us because his own work as an intern at Grocotts Mail was demanding and time- consuming to the point where the work we needed him to do was becoming a burden to him.

He embarked on the mission to cover the dumpsite story all on his own and we were unable to accompany him since his tight schedule meant that he would have to shoot the video during awkward hours on his way to work. The work was done in a haphazard manner and the video clips were largely difficult to use. This can perhaps be accounted for by the fact that he was swamped with other work and commitments.

We decided to set aside a day we would go to the townships and guide him in the shooting process. The extra time we invested was worth our while because the shots which Andile took were of a much better quality. It turned out to be a great day where we got to interact and acquaint ourselves with our “graduate” citizen journalist on a personal level. After shooting, we went to visit Andile’s place since it was located a short distance from where we were shooting the dumpsite story. He welcomed us into his home and we got to socialise with him in his personal space where he felt comfortable and free to be himself. We discovered that he was very down to earth with a respect for the spirit world, love for people, music and poetry. We also learnt that Andile is very much a self-subsistent and independent person who works hard to advance himself and rise above his circumstances. Journalism for him is a career which he enjoys pursuing whilst also investing time in his management studies.

During the editing process, we worked together as a team with Andile and guiding him on the structure of his narration as well as the editing of his clips. He was very much involved in the process of narrating and seemed to have a natural ability to use the right words to tell his story. In terms of cutting clips he was largely apathetic and did not really spend time familiarising himself with the editing programme. During the recording of the narration, Andile was articulate and clear, however the tone of his voice sounded very much like a radio presenter and therefore the narration had to be recorded a couple of times and he displayed patience, perseverance and a willingness to learn through it all.

We were pleased with the outcome of Andile’s work. We may have faced a lot of challenges in the beginning but Andile was persistent and he co-operated whenever it was within his power. We were also patient and accommodated his busy work schedule throughout the process.

We also believe that working with our citizen journalist assisted us to enhance our own skills and to put our knowledge to the test. It was a highly rewarding experience to be able to pass on what we had learnt to someone who had so much dedication towards journalism and who we were certain would put the knowledge to good use.

Going forward with Citizen Journalism

Posted by Push On May - 20 - 2010


By: Zikhona Masala and Pumelela Nqelenga

The collaboration of JMS3 students along with Citizen Journalist trainees from local newspaper Grocott’s Mail was comprised of 6 weeks of basic journalism training. As JMS3 students our mandate was to work in a team with citizen journalist trainees throughout the duration of 2nd term. However this was not without any challenges, we had to school ourselves in using a new programme Windows Movie Maker instead of the usual Adobe Premier when compiling stories, on the other hand teaching the citizen journalist as well as having to send out search parties in order to make sure that our citizen journalist was on track with assignments. Our citizen journalist was Zoli Pamela Sakata a communications major who because of this already had a general idea about interviewing techniques, camera shots which were all done using her Samsung B3310 cellphone.

Another challenge was the use of cellphone’s as citizen journalism requires instead of using television cameras. Often the camera quality was not as good as it would have been on an actual TV camera but we did manage to find ways in minimizing such encounters. The upside of using a cellphone was that we didn’t have to carry heavy and huge camera’s, this made it easy for our citizen journalist to move around easily when capturing footage.  Our duty was to help and guide our citizen journalist’s through using a cellphone and making video clips that would be used by a news organisation, in this case it was for the Grocott’s Mail website.

Zoli learnt the skill of taking shots using the 6 seconds rule, getting B-roll and cutaways, sequencing, capturing, working with audio and doing narrations. As part of our duty we also had to help and work with her in the process of finding viable story angles that would be suitable for the television medium in particular. Looking back at the very beginning of the course, the first video clip that our citizen journalist took, it is visible that there has been tremendous improvement in terms of ideas and the footage that our citizen journalist is now able to do. During this process as JMS 3 students we were not just teaching the citizen journalists, we were also learning by showing them the ropes, we are confident that Zoli is now well equipped to provide her community with good quality news of public interest and will hopefully continue using her cellphone as a tool to do so.



View T St in a larger map

View Grahamstown in a larger map

View Grahamstown in a larger map

Citizen journalist Cathy Gush tells her story

Posted by Kyle On May - 16 - 2010

By Lisa Bluett, Sembene Hamilton & Ntombi Mlangeni

Working with citizen journalist Cathy Gush was an enlightening experience. As a third year journalism student one has a tendency to take for granted just how much one has actually learned in three years, and communicating these abilities and skills to someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to study journalism can be a harrowing and yet very rewarding experience.

We were lucky in that we met Cathy early on in the term, and from square one it was quite apparent that we had found ourselves a hard working citizen journalist. From day one she was highly enthusiastic about learning the skills required to produce multimedia mobile journalism. Before our initial meeting with Cathy, the group prepared a brief how-to-guide in terms of shooting visuals with one’s mobile phone. This was given to Cathy and she was given her first assignment, which was to produce a 15 second clip containing a striking visual which she was also then required to write a blurb for. This first story was completed by our citizen journalist without much hassle.

The second story proved to be a bit more of a challenge. The actual shooting of the footage was relatively easy but Cathy soon discovered the wonderful post-production process that is called editing. Editing is the biggest pain in a journalist’s proverbial you know what. It is a time consuming process, and when one is working with limited footage of a relatively poor quality (as is the case with most footage shot on mobile phones), finding usable and relevant bits of footage to use can become a nightmare. Add into these frustrations, the need to convert all of the media shot on the phone to a format compatible with windows movie maker, which meant downloading a freeware converter to convert .mp4 files to .avi files before the editing process could begin.

Eventually all the footage was chosen and then we had Cathy write the narration for the story and it was recorded in the radio studio. The next gremlin in our citizen journalist machine was trying to import the audio into movie maker. The audio was recorded and saved in .mp3 format but after numerous tries, windows movie maker kept crashing on us every time we tried to import the audio. We eventually discovered that another file conversion was needed and the .mp3 files were converted into .wav files, which movie maker then accepted. We then matched up our narration to our footage, cut and trimmed here and there and the final piece was exported.

Through this whole process, we believe Cathy learned a lot, and at the same time our skills as third year journalism students were reinforced. There were many minor challenges along the way, but nothing that was too difficult to overcome, and now at the end of the whole process, we have taught someone valuable journalistic skills which are self-sustainable and the ability to produce citizen journalism on a mobile phone is a tool Cathy will now carry with her for the rest of her life.

Getting the story

Getting the story

Zukiswa Gubevu, fully-fledged citizen journalist

Posted by Kyle On May - 16 - 2010

By Andiswa Leve and Kyle Robinson

Initially the idea of teaching someone else to learn the intricacies of journalism seemed quite daunting. Did we, as third year students, really know enough about the profession to literally guide them step by step to becoming well equipped, in order to best reflect and provide coverage events in their respective communities? We soon found out it was going to be a long but rewarding experience.
Our first meeting with our citizen journalist, Zukiswa Gubevu was at Grocotts Mail on a Sunday afternoon. We had decided that this was an apt location because she was familiar with the area and we wanted a neutral setting for our first encounter.

She came prepared with camera in hand, because her cell phone camera had been stolen. We were quite impressed with her having organised an alternative to not having a camera. Initially she was shy and soft spoken, but as we spent more time with her, providing her with a breakdown of what was required of her from us, and vice versa, she became more comfortable. She seemed very interested, asking questions when she was unsure of what was going on.

On that first day we taught the basic principles and technicalities of using a camera. We provided explanations of ‘rule of thirds’ technique, sequences, and how to position the camera when she was filming things that were either near or far. She became familiar with the ‘TV jargon’, and most importantly we could see that she applied what we had taught her well.

Soon came the time for our CJ to put the theory we had taught her to practise. It was time for her to begin finding news worthy stories, ‘keeping her ears to the ground’, and really become a investigative journalist.The first assignment required the CJ’s to produce a short clip. On numerous occasions she did not respond to either of our attempts to get hold of her. We were frustrated and worried but eventually, we made contact with her again. Zukiswa did her first clip on the fencing project that the Makana Municipality is currently busy with.

We were very impressed with her technique and the fact that she genuinely had a good eye, capturing footage of a really high quality. Her only downfall was that she had not gathered enough information and contact details to substantiate what she had captured. We then went back to where the fencing was being constructed and she was again in her element. We could not believe that this was the same person who was so shy and timid the first time. Now she had her camera, notebook and pen in hand as if she had been a journalist all this time. She asked the right questions, the ‘who, what, where why and when’ and ‘how’. We were really impressed with her story and the obvious commitment she had to her story and this project as a whole, despite the previous mishap.

Another challenge, other than that of miscommunication, was the fact that Zukiswa did not always articulate herself well in English, but Andy spoke to her in Xhosa to make sure that we all understood what we expected of each other.

The latter came to the fore when she had to go and get comment from The Department of Education for her video story. Of course she was in unfamiliar territory and it was to be expected. We guided her along, and by the end of the interview she was more confident, asking questions and writing the answers down. We had witnessed her blossom and take such a professional stance within a matter of minutes- again another proud moment, and we had soon forgotten about all the troubles from before.

Her video story took her to Joza in the Grahamstwon township, as can be seen in this map.

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 It looked at  how children in the township have to walk long distances to school in the early hours of the morning, even though they had applied to be fetched and dropped off in their respective extensions. Her story was exactly that- a story, not just a clip or a 30 second video. We were very impressed with the story and the fact that she had chosen to take this on, as opposed to taking a small clip and not really having a STORY.

Her work ethic was much appreciated. Our patience was tested at times but her quick learning and the final piece that she produced was amazing. Within a mere 5 week period she is a fully fledged citizen journalist. I think for us, it all came to be a rewarding experience at the end. There were times when we honestly didn’t know what to do when she did not respond to us, so much so that we had to go to her house! However, in retrospect, it was a rewarding experience and one that we hope Zukiswa gained all that she had hoped to for it to be.

The thrill of skydiving

Posted by Kyle On May - 14 - 2010

By Kyle Robinson and Bradley Janssen

Skydiving is a sport that appeals to many because of the thrill of the adrenalin rush. However, others are more worried about their personal safety, and would not trust themselves to jump out of an aeroplane. This piece investigates the dangers of skydiving, and follows the entire training process of two men about to jump. We see them learning the theory, and then learning the practical side. It reveals how seriously EP Skydiver’s, based outside Grahamstown, take their safety precautions.

Morning of 1 in 9 protest

Morning of 1 in 9 protest

By: Chwayitisa Nandisa Futshane and Bradley Janssen

For the past few months Grocotts Mail has been training a group of citizen journalists on the basic principles of journalism such as gathering stories, verifying information, sources and writing articles on the various stories that they gather around their communities. Citizen journalism is effectively becoming a very important element of journalism as everyday people with no formal training are gathering news on issues that affect their own communities, stories that professional journalists wouldn’t otherwise write about. This term is often called hyper-local stories. In a town like Grahamstown, where Grocotts Mail is the only source of local Grahamstown based news, the work of citizen journalists will become more and more important as they gather stories that affect the entire Grahamstown area and give the towns citizens a platform to have their voices heard.

Our tasks then was to assist one of the citizen journalists and teach them the principles of filming video stories, that they could film using their cell phones, edit at Grocotts and then upload onto the Grocotts website. Most of today’s basic cell phones have cameras that have some sort of video function which the can use to capture the stories. Since their cell phones are with them where ever the go it allows them to capture quickly and on the move. It was thus important that they were taught the skills that will help them to film better videos.

We started working with Jean Pretorius, setting a quick introductory meeting with him to map out our journey over the next few weeks. We held a workshop to give some pointers on how to best utilise his cell phone, which is the Samsung D700. We also gave him a few tasks to accomplish before the first workshop so that we could see where he would need the most assistance. He had to film at least three different ten second videos, which we would then look at and evaluate in terms of his use of natural light, the angles he shot the video at and his general understanding of video filming.  The clip he eventually uploaded on Grocotts was a short story on the new classrooms that were built at Good Shepherd School.

Besides the basics of angles, position, camera work, lightning and sound we also delved deeper into filming techniques with the five-sequence. This is a close-up shot of the hands, close-up of the face, over-the-shoulder shot, a wide shot and any other extra shots, which are always great to take because they can be used together during editing.

We discussed his various interests and the kinds of stories he would like to cover and decided to do a story on the one-in-nine campaign. We also looked at the various shots that he should aim to get as well as recording the atmosphere throughout the day. Although we had some communication problems, both sides of the team pulled together and met a few days later to work on editing his story and discussed the principle of “writing to picture.” This is means writing narration for the story so that it matches the footage that was available to us.

Jean Pretorius uses his cell phone to shoot videos and take photos.

Jean Pretorius uses his cell phone to shoot videos and take photos.

It was important to teach Jean these various skills because as a citizen journalist, he will need to utilise these skills to write multi-media stories on the Grocotts website, so that the reader can have full experience of a particular story through video, sound and the article itself. What is great is that there is free software out there like Windows Movie Maker and Audacity, which he can use in future endeavours.

Our contribution to this project will hopefully help to ensure that Grahamstown has more dynamic citizen journalists who fully utilise the resources they have available to them. This is especially true as journalism is a dynamic industry and this is that latest phenomenon.

location of 1 in 9 protest campaign

Location of 1 in 9 protest campaign

Click on map to go to the story of the 1 in 9 protest campaign

Take a look at the quick synopsis of what we did with Jean Pretorius

But wait there is more, Jean Pretorius: Current Grocotts Mail Citizen Journalist

Video Today

Raphael HIV testing and support CentreThe Raphael Centre located in Grahamstown, South Africa is a HIV/AIDS testing and support centre. Lately, though, this haven for people infected or affected by the virus has been rought by troubles. The future of the centre is uncertain as it needs sponsors to ensure it’s survival. Meanwhile other issues, like an objecting neighbour are also posing problems for the centre which helps over 1 000 people every month.