Introduction to the News Page

In my personal philosophy document I stated that, “I make my choice as a radio journalist in this community to tell stories of those who would otherwise never get their stories told.” I was referring to Grahamstown which is a city laden with social inequalities that are the result of years of marginalisation and segregation brought on by the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. It has been my endeavour throughout the course to tell the stories of people whose very stories may go unnoticed if we all, as journalists in this town, stuck to objectivity or seeking out stories that require the expert voices. Glasser (1992) points out that the result of objectivity where the journalist takes on the “stating facts stance” is that it makes the journalist seek out “expert voices” at the expense of ordinary people. It was my hope then that the stories I would find would be those that give voice to ordinary people. My first pitch was focused on a new toy library which was at the time being opened and would allow parents to come in and borrow resources for them to play with their children at home. What was particularly striking about this story for me was that although it would not be a hard news piece, it highlighted a social problem, that of unemployment affecting even preschool going children. This is to say that by virtue of the parents not being able to work and thus not affording to pay for their children to attend preschool, these children’s development stands the chance of lagging behind that of their peers who are attending preschool. The part that made this story important for was the good news angle of it- the toy library was being opened for these unemployed parents and their children. I concluded in my personal philosophy that would look for good new stories. Looking at this pitch now based on the additions I have made to my personal philosophy, I think that this story, as much as it shows one of the problems that come with unemployment, also serves as a story in which I would have been, as a journalist, highlighting a solution for one problem (not being able to take children to preschool because of unemployment) that the citizens of may have deliberated about but found no solution.

For the second round of story pitches for news I pitched a story on the Black Sash opposing an amendment that government was proposing to make on the Social Assistance Bill. Their stance was that it would grossly disadvantage many people who may no longer qualify for the grant. They were to fight for people who are already struggling to make ends meet with the social assistance grant. This was an important story considering the inequalities in our city and in the greater province. My aim with this story was to give people an understanding of what the amendment would mean for many in Grahamstown as well as to find out what citizens could do to stop the amendment and perhaps help the Black Sash in their quest. This story pitch also highlighted an issue of inequalities, unemployment and social grants. Social grants in some way form part of the government’s development plan; in that social grant is there to alleviate poverty. This would have taken a development journalism slant as it would have informed people how they are affected and what they can do in the situation (Banda, 2007).

Doing the story on the Toy Library was a lot more difficult than I had imagined. This could have been a colour piece and I wanted the opinions of the parents for this piece and my hope was to rely less on the facilitator and more on the parents’ experiences and hopes concerning the library. This was important because as I have set out and in my updated philosophy that I would endeavour to in my reports, value the opinion of the ordinary person as much as the expert. This was not to be as the days that I went to do the story, the weather had kept the parents from coming to the library. Due to the deadline constraint I had to go with the facilitator’s opinion. This story thus presents itself as a great follow up piece. The official opening of the library happened a few months after it had begun running at the time that I did the story. Also, the toy library was painted by a few students from Rhodes University as part of their community engagement project. It would be interesting to go and back and find out how well the library is functioning and received by the community and parents that were targeted from the onset. Many more similar libraries have also been put up around Grahamstown East by other stakeholders. This would also be part of the follow up, to see their success, where funding is coming from as well as where exactly these libraries are located and how the system works for borrowing resources. This follow up piece would serve to inform citizens about where they can find these resources and potentially allow organisations in Grahamstown to contribute towards these initiatives.

Tackling Substance Abuse

Drug and Substance abuse is not only a concern in South Africa, but has been a growing concern in Grahamstown. Grahamstowns in the past had a structure in place to tackle this issue, but it has not existed for a while now. Various commuity stakeholders have now come together to tackle this problem in the town. Refilwe Mpshe reports.

As It Is: News Podcast 2

Another edition of As It is News. This is a podcast of news updates put together by a group in the third year radio journalism class. As usual we look at news happening in and around Grahamstown. The National Arts Festival is nearly upon us, so this week we tackle some issues that may have consequences for the festival.

The New Toy Library

Education is an important aspect of our society. In Grahamstown many parents live under the bread line and cannot afford to send their children to preschools. They now have the opportunity to play with their children using educational toys. The Toy library in extension six is now the place where parents can borrow these resources. Refilwe Mpshe reports.

Picture taken by Katherine Steward

As It Is- News Podcast

As It is News podacst is a news bulletin put together by a group of third year radio journalism students. It provides a quick look at ises making news in Grahamstown. In the first edition we look at the effects of the SAMWU strike as well as what is happening with social development.