Spotlight

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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.

Cissie Gool House, a modern-day Commune

Cissie Gool House, a modern-day Commune

In 1871 a revolutionary takeover of Paris created a vision of a new society and inspired socialists everywhere. Today in Cape Town so-called occupiers have turned the Cissie Gool House in Woodstock into a working commune, creating a vibrant communalism. The City is trying to evict them and shut down the house.

A tribute to an unreconstructed radical

A tribute to an unreconstructed radical

The lecture hall was where he opened the eyes of students to an alternative view of law and history. His story-telling was both didactic and insurgent. Lovell had mastered both Africanisation and decolonisation in his teaching of law long before they became buzzwords in the legal academy.

Education through the eyes of a learner

Education through the eyes of a learner

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on lives and livelihoods, especially the poor and vulnerable. South Africa’s education system, which has been in crisis for many years, has also been negatively impacted, as a Grade 11 learner has revealed.

Covid-19 vaccines – inequality and the politics of health

Covid-19 vaccines – inequality and the politics of health

Covid-19 has exposed the faultlines of egregious inequality, both between and within countries. It’s time the world woke up, assert the writers.

This inequality will kill people on a global scale, as it did with HIV, until civil society forces Big Pharma to cede power. That’s the scenario we are looking at again. Hopefully, we have learnt something from the past, before too many of our people die.

US elections expose flaws in Western democracy

US elections expose flaws in Western democracy

“The much-praised US Constitution was never primarily about protecting human rights – it was about hammering out a deal between states. This is why the presidency is about winning states and why tiny states have as many Senators as huge ones.”

Ditching toxic masculinity in favour of positive masculinity

Ditching toxic masculinity in favour of positive masculinity

The abuse of women in South Africa happens in the safety of the home, in places of work, at schools and more recently all over the internet – pretty much anywhere. In addition to living with the fear of death, often from an intimate partner, women in South Africa endure cat-calling and sexual harassment in the streets and at work.

Covid 19 – More than meets the eye

Covid 19 – More than meets the eye

The pandemic intersects with several historical factors that include the tragedy of sugar, land dispossession and the subversion of the global food economy.

About Us

The Journalist is a ground-breaking media project that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. The Journalist is an independent, not for profit organisation working with the academic community and a range of credible online entities to make knowledge more accessible to the wider public. We don’t only tell you what happened. We help you understand why.

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