#MMX2018 zooms in on journalism graduatesDate Released: Thu, 21 June 2018 12:33 +0200
By Charissa Cassels
The lens through which well-established media houses view newly graduated journalists, could be the cause of their stagnancy and inability to adapt media, in order for it to appeal to the youth.
The Menell Media Exchange Conference that was held in Johannesburg at The Forum from the 8-9 June 2018 was proof that there was a ‘juniorization’ within media houses. But instead of this being viewed as something that could assist media houses, the ‘junior’ journalists were viewed as inexperienced and their voices were and are often silenced as well. In addition to being a young journalist, it was also mentioned that one’s race and gender affected how one was perceived and accepted within the working force. This is largely as a result of most of the media houses being owned by White males. This alludes to ageism, sexism and racism that are prevalent within the workforce.
As an aspiring journalist, this was disheartening to realise and accept as I was of the opinion that we had progressed passed this point, at least within the sphere of the country that is able to control narratives and educate the public on these issues. In a conversation with Lebogang Ramafoko, CEO of Soul City Institute, I was encouraged to continuously speak about issues that women face for as long as women face them. Ramafoko, later in a panel discussion about the ‘Untold Stories’ said that, “There is freedom, but not for everyone. For women, it is not yet Uhuru. This country is not ours. We need to speak truth to power. This freedom has not yet arrived for us.” It is these words that have given me courage to continue writing about the struggles that women face in our country until the world starts to listen to us.
In addition to being a female writer, I was approached with my racial identity as well. I came to realise that people within the media field, did not recognise ‘Coloured’ as an identity. I was offended by this as I identify as Coloured. In a conversation with Iman Rappetti, journalist, author and radio host on Power FM, I asked her how she grapples with her identity within the working space. Rappetti mentioned that she identifies as Biko- Black but that whatever identity one wishes to ascribe to, is an identity which one should own. It is then that I realised that people might not understand why I ascribe to the Coloured identity because our lived experiences are different and as a result, our perspectives and our histories would be different as well.
At this point, I had come to terms with accepting that being a Coloured female in the media field would be strenuous but now I had to consider my age as well.
I am a young, Coloured female journalist wanting to enter the workforce, but how do I get my foot, even my toe at this point, into the door? Karyn Maughan, Legal Journalist and Analyst, cautioned that young journalists are often undermined as a result of the ‘juniorization’ notion but adds that this should not deter young journalists. She advises that the youth should not “Ask for permission to be heard.” And this resonated with what Rappetti said when she mentioned that, “We need to be agents for each other.”
There are many things I learnt from influential people such as Phatiswa Magopeni, Head of SABC News, who said that, “We need to get people in the right places to do the right things.” Or when Maughan said that, “We are not meaningfully engaging in poverty.” Even when Koketso Moeti, Founder of Amandla.mobi, mentioned that, “People are at the centre but they are not centred.”
I have specifically included those quotes as they are all from women but also because they speak directly to what my role as a media curator will be. This is interlinked with the theme of this year’s Menell Media Exchange programme that was ‘Breaking and building’ and I realised that one cannot talk about the construction of anything without deconstructing it first. This conference assisted me in deconstructing the media and has now forced me to construct media from the perspective of a young, female Coloured journalist in a country that has claimed to be free of all oppression.
I will continually speak about issues of ageism, racism and sexism until my throat is raw, until my tongue is dry, until my jaw is clenched. I will continually speak until the world decides to listen.