Tuesday, July 17, 2018


All the latest journalism from the Rhodes TV3 class

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.

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

Devonia Hufkie: Citizen Journalist

Posted by Rogan On May - 17 - 2010

When we met Devonia, we were very happy to see her! We had had some trouble with our original CJ due to communication problems. We were a bit stressed as we had very little time to do very much work. Luckily, Devonia was ready for action and jumped right into it. Working with Devonia was very easy because she was so willing to improve her journalistic skills. She tackled each project with dedication by spending alot of her time and patience on working with shooting video. Devonia did not have a cell-phone with a camera on it so one had to be arranged for her to use. This used up more valuable time and put us in a very sticky situation, regardless, Devonia never kept us waiting on a deadline or for a meeting. She was always on time and prepared with story ideas, feedback on her footage or some new route that the news stroy could take. She wanted to reprt on the youth of her residential area of Hoogeenoeg.

This shows the position of Devonia's residential area, Hoogeenoeg, in relation to Grahamstown.

This shows the position of Devonia

Her first task was to bring us a 10 second clip of absolutely anything (we did mention it would be to her advantage if there was something interesting happening in the shot). Devonia suprised us by arriving with a short clip of a young (underage) boy smoking and this included a brief interview with the boy about where he gets his money for cigarettes. We were impressed by this clip but even more impressed when she did not wait for our critisisms but rather told us. She pointed out that she had allowed shadow to fall on the subjects face and we could sense a strong irritation with herself at making this mistake. We reminded her that it’s all a part of the learning process and she has never repeated that mistake again.

The second task was to get a few different clips that could make up a longer, more well-rounded news story. Devonia decided that she would do this on underage drinking in Hoogeenoeg. However, the light of the night was not enough for her to capture anything on camera so she had to go to plan B: she completed the story of underage smokers by following them into the bushes where they hide from adults and smoke cigarettes. She captured them lighting up, smoking and putting their cigarettes out all the while asking them questions about their pre-mature habit.

Once we had looked at the footage, we placed it in order and showed Devonia how to edit it down using Windows Movie Maker. She cut her clips up and put them together in order and then she wrote down the narration that would put the news story into flow. We recorded this using a microphone plugged straight into the computer and applied it to the visuals. When it was done, Devonia was very happy with her end product and mentioned that she understood all the steps in the process and that she looks forward to creating news clips for Grocott’s online by herself. We look forward to seeing the work that she produces in the future!

Devonia records the narration she has written for the piece

Devonia records the narration she has written for the piece

Devonia cuts her clip to fit it in the news story

Devonia cuts her clip to fit it in the news story

Devonia edits down the narration on her clip

Devonia edits down the narration on her clip

Diseases that children smokers are at risk of contracting:

Comments on citizen journalism:

For more information click on the above links!

Grahamstown CJ Jennifer Linklater

Posted by Fayo On May - 16 - 2010

Fayo, showing CJ Jenny how to set and take a video using a cellphone 

Fayo, showing CJ Jenny how to set and take a video using a cellphone

 Our experience with a Grahamstown citizen journalist – Jennifer Linklater

At our first meeting with Jennifer, we discovered that apart from being a citizen journalist of Grahamstown, she is also a social worker. She nurses Tuberculosis patients and helps in raising funds for Hospice. She has an undeniable urge to create a difference and she told us that journalism is a form of activism and, through the medium of print, radio and television- one can change that change.

We discussed different story ideas revolving in and around Grahamstown and we must admit that Jennifer is not only informed and knowledgeable but also very inquisitive. These qualities signify a blossoming journalism career for Jennifer. She felt strongly about issues relating to animal abuse, bad sanitation, housing problems, the water crisis and she also wanted to cover some positive and light-hearted stories like the Grahamstown flower show, the addition of pizzas to the Dulce’s menu, the opening of Scooter’s Pizza etc.

Even though she had bright story ideas, she experienced a difficulty in drawing a distinction between stories that are suitable for phone-television medium and print medium. This is understandable since she is a citizen journalist who, before this project, had only experienced print. We explained to her the criteria for selection of stories for different mediums. It was crucial for her to know that for a television story, going to be filmed on a phone, there are certain factors that one has to keep in mind such as visually appealing shots, lighting, audio clarity, interesting ambience, target audience, accessibility and reliability of information.

We also trained her on how to use her phone (BlackBerry) and in terms of filming; we enlightened her with some of the basic rules like the six second hold, five shot rule, line rule, zooming and panning rules, etc. This training will enhance the quality of her work. Having said that, we realize that she is a citizen journalist and such journalists are not expected to be the most professional especially towards objectivity of news. Their news pieces are often highly opinionated and emotion driven. While this goes against the fundamental principle of news values, without it- citizen journalism would lose its spirit.

For the ten-second piece, Jennifer was inclined towards covering the water crisis in Grahamstown. However, upon realizing the time constraints and lack of visual appeals, she decided to do a story on the addition of pizzas in Dulce’s menus. Also since it was her first time filming, she was not confident enough to cover a controversial negative piece. Hence, we encouraged her to start off with a light-hearted Dulce’s story. While filming, Jennifer was threatened by technology. This caused her to pan the phone camera a lot. However, she eventually got used to it and obeyed the six second hold rule. Her other signs of weaknesses were impatience, restlessness, nervousness and distraction by ambience. Having mentioned that, we would also like to point out Jennifer’s strong characteristics while filming which are- curiosity to learn, her energetic and extrovert personality.

After the filming, we asked Jennifer to write a blurb. At first she didn’t have confidence in her writing but with the help of our positive guidance, she felt a lot more secure. When we gave her feedback on her filming, she took that constructive criticism and progressed in a much better way for her next project which was a minute long documentary on the sanitation issues in Hlalani.

She got the story idea from her maid, Elsie. She was able to convince us that this was a newsworthy piece which needed to be documented. It is about the lack of flush toilets in townships like Hlalani. While this may sound like the same old sanitation saga, it has a different angle. Jennifer suggested that while millions are being spent on the infrastructure in the main cities for the World Cup, most townships still have sanitation problems. Like revealed before, Jennifer is a very informed person. This has helped her a lot in finding interesting angles to stories that have been told before.

For the filming of this documentary, we went to Hlalani where Elsie lives. Jennifer suggested that Elsie would be a strong character as she has been struggling with the long drops toilets for almost ten years and she would be able to give us a good insight into the story. We were impressed with Jennifer’s journalistic ability of identifying relevant sources. We were also impressed with her filming this time. We guided her in terms of story and scene structure but with regards to the actual filming, it was her technical responsibility. Even though she exhibited anxiety at first and shook her phone every now and then, she was definitely doing better than the last time.

She filmed in different angles, explored cut-aways and interviewed Elsie using one of us as translators. Most importantly,she got so involved in the story that she has scheduled to meet up with the Media officer of the Makana Municipality, Thandi Matebese,in order to discuss the sanitation problem. She also plans to contact Habitat for Humanity for help in building a stable toilet for Elsie and others suffering from the same problem.

With regards to editing of this documentary, Jennifer was excited about the narration but not so eager to learn editing on Movie Maker. We helped her draft the narration and the blurb. Then we got a recorder and taught her how to use it. She recorded her narration and was rather pleased with this process. As far as editing is concerned, she watched and tried to learn but found it hard to cope with technology. We have encouraged her to practise, in her space and time, so that she finds herself comfortable with computers and phones. One has to take into consideration that Jennifer is 55 years old and, at this age it is natural to be intimidated by technology but with our guidance and her determination to practise and learn, she will reach that comfort level.

We would like to conclude by saying that this project has not only helped Jennifer but it has also benefited us in a lot of ways. It is always good to brush up on your knowledge, therefore,it was a mutual learning experience.

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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.

Spaza Life

Posted by Paddy On October - 23 - 2009

A 4 minute doccie on Akhtar Abbas, a Pakistani spaza shop owner in Extension 6, Grahamstown.

The Doccie with Xhosa subtitles:



The doccie without Xhosa subtitles


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.