SpotlightAbout This Section
Never in history has it been so easy to accumulate information. A vast sea of stories flows ceaselessly through the devices at our fingertips. But some days I feel I am drowning in data that does not help me understand the world any better.Edward R Murrow’s warning about TV in 1958 could just as well be applied to all our modern information sources:
“This instrument can teach. It can illuminate and, yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box.”It is what we do with the information at our disposal that determines our destiny. I once had a news editor when I worked on a small broadsheet newspaper in Cape Town who would cut me down to size by reminding me that my feverish efforts at storytelling would soon be “fish n’chips wrapper”. Undeterred I sat at my Olivetti typewriter for hours until I was happy with the stories. In 2014 when we launched The Journalist we had a section called News. Our aim was and is to explore the meaning behind the lights and wires. To avoid at all costs becoming electronic ‘fish n’chips wrapper’. Since then, we have chosen to rework this section of our website and in line with our updated approach it is called SPOTLIGHT. It is a name that evokes images of performers plucked out of the darkness of the stage and bathed in light so that the audience can revel in their artistry. Spotlight will feature the artistry of our finest writers. Their brief will be simple. Don’t merely tell us what happened. Help us understand why. If you have an idea for a Spotlight story please engage in the discussion or use the Contact Us page to write and let us know what you are thinking. If we are indeed the end result of all the stories we’ve heard, as Tim Knight says, choose carefully. The Journalist is committed to help you make that choice and to shed light on the 21st Century clutter.
The following is an edited extract from Chapter 17 of the book Decolonisation of Journalism Education, soon to be released. Shepherd Mphofu and Zubeida Jaffer argue that efforts have to be made to rewrite the national South African narrative to end the notion that the story of this country starts with the arrival of the Dutch colonialists in 1652
Amid renewed and amplified calls for decolonisation, including that of the news media, a new book, Decolonising Journalism in South Africa: Critical Perspectives, situates the South African news media in the post-colonial discourse. The writers of this article have edited the book to bring together an array of voices grappling with the pertinent questions around the role of journalism, and with rooting the discipline within an authentic South African context. Unisa Press is set to publish the book before the end of 2021.
In a book entitled Listening to Literature: Towards a South African Canon Vusi Mchunu samples a wealth of African writers’ wisdom who have kept their narratives reflective of their realities.
Top Row: (Left) Zubeida Jaffer (Right) Shepi Mati Bottom Row: (Left) Frank Meintjies (Right) Phindile Xaba
In a chapter she contributed in the book Rethinking Africa: Indigenous women reinterpret Southern Africa’s pasts, Sylvia Vollenhoven writes that storytelling and mainstream media may be posing the same questions, but often these different disciplines are many worlds apart. Below is an excerpt from her chapter.
In a letter Sol Plaatje wrote from London, England in August 1920 to Silas Molema in Mahikeng, South Africa, Plaatje revealed that he had been writing a novel, Mhudi.
Can Themba was a connoisseur of the language, who craftily converged reporting and creative writing to highlight the plight of the marginalised and oppressed
On certain days there is no water available at the school and the entire area . Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai, India. This inequality will kill people on a global scale, as it did with HIV until civil society forces Big Pharma to cede power.