Contributed by Yami Nhlenyama – Journalism & Boston Media House grad
What is Journalism?
It’s a way of informing the people about events taking place in their society and the world, be it political or social issues. It’s all about telling untold stories within society. Journalism as a medium has the potential to influence and change society at large, that’s why if you want to be a journalist, you have to be someone in pursuit of truth. You cannot let your bias and prejudices get in the way of society finding out the truth.
The various kinds of news staff writers
Beat reporters… This means you can write or broadcast on any topic or focus on certain types of news from politics and sports, to hard news and entertainment.
General assignment reporters… These are the journalists who cover news generally without any specific tasks. They report when the editor needs an urgent deadline on a front cover, a story of interest that’s trending.
Special assignment reporters… These types of journalists have specific departments that they write for, sports entertainment, investigative, and politics. You would normally find special assignments in bigger publications. Smaller publications employ more beat reporters.
The journalism industry has really evolved over the years, with the help of technology, from print to digital. Journalists don’t have to work from the office 24/7, they can work from the different places that they are located in and still be able to submit their work on time. Depending on the contract that you’ve signed with the publication that you work for they may freelance, you may work with other publications while still working for them, you can work certain days or when they call you to cover a story.
What it takes to make it as a good journalist:
- Be able to work under pressure; there might be a story that has to get out immediately and you’d have a few hours to get the information that you need
- Be time disciplined – it’s a deadline-driven industry. If you take time to deliver a story after the hype around it has faded, people might not be interested in hearing it again
- Be able to work in teams because the newsroom is all about working together and making sure that everything comes together perfectly
- Ethics and professionalism
Boston Media House was one of my first choices when it came to tertiary institutes because they are one of the few places that specialised in media-related subjects, journalism included. I knew that it would be a perfect fit for me because I was entering a world full of creative people who thought differently.
When entering the media industry mentorship is important if you’re really passionate about the field. I approached Amanda Matshaka, a channel Afrika radio journalist who’s been in the industry for more than 10 years. She agreed to teach me about the journalism industry, she also has a news publication and was starting a mentorship programme where she mentors up and coming journalists all over Africa. Through her mentoring, I learned that news never sleeps, you have to be ready for anything at any time and it’s all about hard work and dedication.
It takes three years to get your Boston Diploma in Media Practices qualification. In the first two years, you get to learn about different media sectors in the industry including journalism. In the third year that’s when you can major specifically in journalism
I’ve learned that being a journalist doesn’t mean you’re limited to being a journalist, writing for a specific publication, and nothing else. In media every career compliments the other – they interact with one another. Aas a journalist you can also find yourself working in public relations, marketing, or even the film industry and that’s because of the great research and writing skills you acquire during the years.