By Vuyokwazi Burwana
GRAHAMSTOWN -- Journalists and senior communicators from different municipalities in South Africa spent last week learning the ropes of doing their work in a rapidly changing media landscape, and most said afterwards that the course run by the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership was a great platform for sharing knowledge and tips to improve their work.
One of the course participants, Tumelo Taunyane, a Deputy Director for Media Liaison in the Gauteng Department of Sports, Culture and Recreation, said the course – officially known as ‘Government Media: Essential Tools for Editors and Journalists” – had helped him understand media relations issues and how to implement concrete and workable ideas.
“One would have ideas and they would remain ideas so this (course) has given me the platform to be confident and to develop strategies to implement those ideas,” he told this reporter.
The participants said the training accorded them an opportunity to share their experiences and to broaden their view of government communication and the changing media industry, where an increasing number of people in South Africa is accessing news content through digital and social media platforms compared to traditional newspapers, radio and television.
“I find the course to be very relevant to what I’m doing, and a lot is changing in the media so this has helped me to enhance my knowledge and confidence,” said another attendee, Sabelo Ncwane, Coordinator for Communication at the Greater Kokstad municipality.
The engagement of participants through presentations brought about what Ncwane described as “thought-provoking, vibrant conversations which provoke debates that can also be applied in workplaces to bring about change”.
The participants also praised the course for giving them a platform to network. They recognised the need for media communicators to engage with each other. Ncwane even exclaimed that “although I and my colleagues on the course met only three days ago, we now know each other like we met three years ago!” He spoke on Wednesday last week, the third day of the five-day course, which is fully accredited and certificated by Rhodes University.
Rendani Khashane, an Assistant Director at the Department of Defence, shared the sentiments of most of the other participants. She opted to liken her learning experience to the analogy of a car: “If people do not upgrade their skills-set, then they will no longer be effective, just like in a car that needs to be serviced and replenished regularly to work properly.”
Ncwane and Khashane’s parting words stemmed from their belief that every government communicator needed this course because “communication is a passion, a calling and an art of leadership”, to quote Ncwane.