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.

The Zondo Commission: Drama as a Factional Project

The Zondo Commission: Drama as a Factional Project

Proper debate on corruption and democracy eclipsed by media obsession

The Zondo Commission is acting as a vehicle for ANC factional disputes under which powerful social forces are settling scores, according to the writer.

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.

Recently I met a grade 11 learner who is enrolled at a high school in a township outside of Gauteng and he shared information with me that sounded all too familiar, and yet so disturbing.

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.

Why we still need a judicial inquiry into the Cato Manor killings

Why we still need a judicial inquiry into the Cato Manor killings

“As with the TRC cases of apartheid-era crimes that are finally reaching the courts, the family of every person killed unjustifiably deserves justice one day too.”

Reforms to the police oversight system are long overdue. Forensic expertise and investigative skills are low, pathology services in disarray, and witnesses terrified of coming forward.

Protests against Anti Robbery squad a watershed moment for change in Nigeria

Protests against Anti Robbery squad a watershed moment for change in Nigeria

Nollywood celebrities, musicians and Big Brother winners must speak out on the side of the people

To recap, in 1992, the Nigerian government set up the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as a branch of the Nigerian Police with the remit of tackling armed robbery, kidnapping, and other firearms crime.

The SABC and Democracy

The SABC and Democracy

Downsizing will abandon the majority in this “information age”

The editor of The Journalist spotlights developments at the SABC, arguing that the democratic role of the public broadcaster is being rolled back under the guise of economic austerity.Two events have been noteworthy in our South African news over the last month or so. One is the US Presidential election, which saw Joe Biden win against Donald Trump…

Over 130 villages around East London are without water

Over 130 villages around East London are without water

“What the municipality told us is that when they open water to our taps, the hospital and the town suffers. It means if we have water, then the hospital and the town will be out of water.”

Villagers in Ngqushwa in the Eastern Cape say they have marched and sent petitions to authorities but little relief has been provided to their shortage of water that has lasted about 10 years.In the 1970s, South African student protests spurred an international divestment movement.

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.

Press Freedom: from State control and ideological strait-jackets

Press Freedom: from State control and ideological strait-jackets

In May 2021 we will celebrate the Windhoek Declaration on the free press. What is its relevance today?

It is going to take new and expanded forms of plurality in all media forms including contesting public broadcasters so that they genuinely are not just platforms of the state and campaigns…

Gender Justice: How is South Africa doing?

Gender Justice: How is South Africa doing?

Generation Equality for Greater Inclusion

The title is inspired by the United Nations’ 2020 International Women’s Day (8 March) theme “I am Generation Equality: RealiSing Women’s Rights”. The Generation Equality campaign which seeks to bring together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, religion and country, to drive actions that will create a gender-equal world.

Tribute to Fawzia Lowe

Tribute to Fawzia Lowe

1936 – 2020

Fawzia Lowe, who passed away at the beginning of September, was already in her 50s when she was thrust into the turbulent world of political activism following the arrest and imprisonment of her son.It took all kinds of acts of bravery by people from all walks of life to topple apartheid.

The pernicious harms to health of certain cottage industries

The pernicious harms to health of certain cottage industries

Choosing between pestilence and plague.

There is a ghastly economic dilemma facing many South African households living in poverty and operating cottage industries – in order to eat they have to accept being slowly poisoned inside their own homes.In 2007, I was part of a South African Medical Research Council team conducting a survey of the blood lead levels

The extradition of Julian Assange would undermine freedom of speech

The extradition of Julian Assange would undermine freedom of speech

A champion of the cause of democracy

The former president of Brazil says the WikiLeaks founder is a champion of democracy and that the charges against him affect journalists around the world.The British courts will soon be deciding the fate of the Australian journalist Julian Assange, a man who has been unjustly charged as a criminal.

Online Gender-Based Violence doesn’t hurt any less

Online Gender-Based Violence doesn’t hurt any less

Breaking down the dignity of women and girls in the digital era

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is an age-old problem in a patriarchal society that has been brought into terrifying focus once again in recent months.

eKhanana residents are tilling for freedom

eKhanana residents are tilling for freedom

Looking for food sovereignty in the promised land

Residents of eKhenana, a land occupation in Cato Manor, Durban, have started planting vegetables. Food sovereignty and other forms of self-sufficiency, they say, will be achieved through tilling the soil and opening themselves up to new knowledge.The settlement was created in 2018. Many of its residents came from rented lodgings in a nearby area.

Working Class Day of Action

Working Class Day of Action

Call for better living and working conditions

At the beginning of August a number of communities across South Africa vented their anger at the growing sense that working class people are being abandoned by the government during the Covid 19 pandemic. This article first appeared on Elitsha.Protests around the country to mark the start of a national campaign by different organisations…

Women’s Month: Memory over Forgetting and Gender based Violence

Women’s Month: Memory over Forgetting and Gender based Violence

The system of cheap labour on the mines contributed to toxic masculinity and female dependence

The writer argues that the influx control and pass laws of apartheid legislation aimed at providing cheap labour on the mines for capitalist barons destroyed family life and deepened the patriarchal oppression of black women.As we have seen with the Black Lives Matter movement and the removal of colonial symbols globally

John Nkadimeng and the Cuban Boy from the Cape

John Nkadimeng and the Cuban Boy from the Cape

The young man from Salt River who joined Fidel’s revolutionary forces

The passing of struggle stalwart John Nkadimeng earlier this month, prompted the writer to reflect on his role in the return to his homeland of Salt River born Ronald Herboldt after some 40 years as a Cuban army officer.The life and times of John Nkadimeng who died and was laid to rest earlier this month, in its many iterations

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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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