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Teaching: a two-way process

Posted by Tessa On May - 20 - 2010

By Tessa Trafford and Nicole Bloch.

Citizen journalism refers to the gathering, analysing and reporting of news by community members. Grocott’s Mail opened a Citizen journalist Newsroom in September 2009, and has since been training pro-active community members to become journalists. As part of this project, television journalism students from Rhodes University joined with the citizen journalist to further train them in the broadcast medium.

The citizen journalism project turned out to be a challenging journey for us as well as for Noxolo Saki, the citizen journalist. In order to be able to teach more efficiently after a short term of doing television journalism ourselves, we decided to make a manual for Noxolo which included basic information on filming, searching for a story and editing. The first big obstacle however was to get Noxolo a phone with video, as she did not have access to one. It would have been possible to get a different citizen journalist with a phone but we did not want to disappoint Noxolo and we did everything in our power to keep her in our team. A Journalism and Media Studies professor at Rhodes University then provided financial support in order to get Noxolo a phone for the project. The search for a phone and the fact that Noxolo has a two year old child caused huge time constraints. Although Noxolo started out extremely shy and did not know how to look for a good story, she soon came out of her shell and started to show some good results. In order to get some practise Noxolo was required to film a short video clip. Noxolo decided to film a clip on a church group donating boxes of fruit to the House of Joy, where many orphaned children are staying. In the clip, the owner of the house gives thanks to God.


After having had this practice Noxolo started to film for the main project. She focused on a story about litter being dumped behind a crèche in Joza, which is affecting the health of children and angers community members. The crèche is opposite Noxolo’s house making this a personal issue as well as one of great importance to the community. This makes the story hyper-local. One of the major advantages of Citizen Journalism is that community members can let their voices be heard about issues that other journalists may not be aware of.


The highlight of the citizen journalism project was the talkshow, where Noxolo’s video was played alongside that of the other citizen journalists. The video was followed by an in-studio discussion where Noxolo, who was part of the audience,  was able take part in the show. To get the full story, plus more pictures and video clips, go to our timeline:

This gives you a timeline, with information and images, of the citizen journalism project.

From this project we learnt that teaching is a two way process. While we taught Noxolo about the world of broadcasting and how to create effective videos with a cell phone, we in turn learnt new skills from Noxolo as well as from the teaching process itself.

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