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RUTV 3

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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.

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