Social media in journalism is increasingly becoming a useful tool for investigative journalism said Raymond Joseph, social media expert and freelance journalist, at this year’s Power
Reporting journalism conference. Twitter, if used properly, can be used as a tool to probe sources for investigative stories. According to Joseph, Twitter can be creepy because you can monitor what
people say and do without their being aware of it.
“There are conversations that are going on there [Twitter] about things that you want to know. You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them. There
are useful tools which allow you to get to the heart of a subject or source.”
Garaki Fadzi, a delegate from Zimbabwe, said he was not active on Twitter until he attended a talk on its use for investigative journalism. He says he now realises how helpful Twitter is when it comes to crowd-sourcing stories.
“I’ll be able to get leads from people without following them directly and I will be able to get more depth than I was doing now.
It also keeps me secure when I’m confronting people … So I think I will benefit a lot,” he said.
A journalist from China says there is a Chinese twitter called Weibo. It works the same as
Twitter and people interact in the same way as they would here in South Africa.
You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them.
Liam Lee, a delegate from Hong Kong, said he noticed South Africa and China have similar ways of using social media as an investigative tool to write stories. He used Weibo to find out what happened to people after an earthquake struck a small town in China.
“I try use my Chinese version of Twitter to find people who were living in a small town where there was an earthquake.” He thinks social media is fast and efficient because ordinary people are always posting breaking news and are at the scene when a story breaks. When the story broke about the earthquake, people using Weibo who were at the scene were very descriptive in how it all happened.
“A young, kind father replied to my request and gave me leads to phone numbers and an email so
I could contact people to tell me what happened and they described every detail for me so I appreciate it,” Lee said.
Adeonke Ogunleye, from Nigeria, thinks Twitter can have positive and negative effects on journalism. She said she has been bullied on Twitter for exposing corruption in Nigeria. Ogunleye complained about the bullying to Twitter and the harasser was suspended, only to return to social media two weeks later.
“I’m a victim of Twitter bullying because of all of my stories from the past, stories I’ve done or investigative stories I have been able to carry out and so many people have come after me on Twitter, they bully me, even fellow reporters and journalists.”
However, according to Joseph, Twitter, if used correctly, can help journalists uncover stories in a way they have never been covered before. He said in all his experience as a journalist he has never seen such a powerful tool.
“If you use Twitter properly you should never have to look for stories … If you’re doing it properly. The tools do the heavy lifting.”
He admits that Twitter on its own is not enough and conversations on Twitter need to be written and read in context so that the story is not skewed or clouded by rumours. He said using lists is also a way for users to sift through tweets.
“Twitter on its own is not enough. There is a variety of tools that you are using that you use around it. The secret source is lists where you can distil right down to subjects so what you really want is an controlled stream,” Joseph said.
AFTER graduating from the University of Johannesburg with a BCom in accounting, Arabile Gumede, accepted an internship at CNBC Africa. He rose swiftly through the ranks most recently becoming a permanent financial news anchor last year at eNCA at the age of 25.
He spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about his career and being employed as a young person.
What was your motivation for getting into financial journalism?
The important thing for me is to be able to actually give you the underlying story of how important your money really is, not just for yourself but to the South African consumer [as well].
Has it been something that you always wanted to pursue and for what reason?
I guess, a lot of it is because it’s not a huge segment in South African journalism. I really wasn’t even keen on journalism to begin with because I did a lot of accounting in varsity. I actually have an honours degree in accounting. A lot of it for me was being able to tell that story.
Financial news anchor at eNCA, Arabile Gumede, talks about his career and youth unemployment. Photo: Luke Matthews
What challenges have you had to overcome while pursuing your career?
Well, I think there are still challenges every single day. [When] one is a young, black financial journalist, people look at you with a sense of “he’s too young to know certain things” or “he hasn’t reached that level of experience to understand certain elements”. That continues to be your stumbling block and you continue to take it and say “well, I’m going to grow from this and I’m going get to speak to people who will help me get to understand those concepts a whole lot better”.
Recently Stats SA released figures that 25,5% of youth are unemployed, 15% of these are black youth. Would you say this is a result of the quality of education South Africa has, specifically to disadvantaged black youth?
I’m 25 and that lifetime in itself doesn’t mean we have solved every single problem that has been faced in terms of creating jobs and creating an ability for a family to continue to create jobs. Understand that how a family creates jobs is being able to [in the Western context] take their kid to high school and varsity and that ultimately leading to an education, leading them to a job.
You are an exception to the statistics, how would you advise black youth to create a better future for themselves?
Nobody is going to do it for you. It starts off at a point where if you want to get to a certain place you are going to have to get there yourself. Nobody is going to give you favours, nobody is going to give you hand-outs, and if you do then you better grab those with all your might and all your strength and run with it. It gets really difficult and one thing for sure, what you get given, if you can produce that tenfold you are likely to succeed no matter what industry you are in. It’s about making what you feel is important to remain important.
UJ chicks show more booty and are more “free spirited” than Wits chicks. Sound like a stereotype? One look at the Facebook page, Wits chicks versus UJ chicks, adds some real meat to the stereotypes of “hot” women.
Girls post pictures of themselves in crop tops, sports bras and pleather pants which hug the thighs and accentuate the booty.
Female students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) post the most girls on the Facebook page. Slindelo Mbatha, a 3rd year student from UJ, says she thinks female students do not treat their body as a temple and that it is an incorrect way to represent women.
“My body is my pride so there’s no way I can post naked pictures on Facebook, hell no. I think it’s slut-ish, nje,” she says.
New and Social Media lecturer at Wits Journalism, Dinesh Balliah, says employers look into social media profiles because people are more free about who they are, so employers want to be sure whom they are associated with.
“When someone sees a picture of you drunk that is something that they attach to you and that is what they think you are,” she says.
BRINGING SEXY BACK: A student flaunts it all on the “Wits vs. UJ chicks” Facebook page to compete with other girls for the “hottest” in varsity title.
A 1st year student from UJ, Livhu Mukhondo, thinks it is disgraceful to show your body in public because it gives off the wrong impression.
“It’s degrading, it misinterprets us in a false manner. As if showing skin is all there is about us, there is more to our content,” Mkhondo says.
While social networks are platforms to express yourself and a place to network amongst friends, the extent to which one is willing to share themselves is starting to tarnish their identity.
Female stereotypes in the media continue to thrive especially when it comes to self-identity and body image. Somehow young women feel as though they have to live up to the way they are defined by media.
Tafadzwa Samu, 3rd year at UJ, thinks there are better ways to show a woman’s “hotness” and beauty besides flashing boobs and butt because it is degrading.
“It is totally unacceptable and I think it is slutty … and disrespectful to your body,” he says.
Samu says more UJ girls are more willing to post pictures of themselves in sports bras and hot pants compared to Wits girls because they are more free-spirited.
Balliah said the definitions of what is considered private have changed because social media was initially platforms which connected people who know each other. However, it has developed to connect organisations, big corporations and people who do not know each other.
“You need to be very prudent about the choices you make and what you are sharing online,” she says.
WAR TALK: Former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob (centre) uses Skype to moderate a debate on alleged violations of international law by Israel. Photo: Roxanne Joseph
The accusation that Israel is violating international law in the Gaza conflict was the issue at the first in a series of talks moderated by former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob at Wits Caltsty auditorium on West campus.
The debate featured well known law professors including Prof Alan Dershowitz, speaking for Israel’s actions in Gaza, and Prof John Dugard of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands speaking against Israel’s role in the recent conflict.
Dershowitz said Israel was defending itself in the conflict and should not be reprimanded for this. He argued the Gaza conflict was similar to a bank robbery in which police officers might hurt innocent civilians being used as shields by criminals.
He added that Israel should not be criticized and this would embolden Hamas, its opponent in the Gaza strip, to continue attacking Israel.
“Israel should not be condemned. If it is condemned it would encourage Hamas to do what it does,” Dershowitz said.
Dugard did not agree to the defence claim argued by Dershowitz.
“Israel’s defence claim is non-existent…It is a punishment to kill those occupying Gaza,” he said.
Dugard argued that only three Israeli civilians have been killed but over 2 000 Palestinians have been killed and 10 000 injured. He called Gaza a “killing field”. He added that Israel was guilty of crimes against humanity because it had intentionally killed a large number of innocent Palestinian civilians who were in hospitals, mosques, schools and homes and should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or a tribunal.
Dugard said accountability and responsibility was required from both Israel and Hamas.
“Accountability is of great importance in this battle,” Dugard said.
Dershowitz rejected holding Israel accountable in the ICC. He attacked the court’s credibility going so far as to call it an “apartheid court”.
“The international court is certainly not international and it is not a court of justice. It is essentially an apartheid court,” Dershowitz said.
The Seventh annual Sex Actually festival produced by Drama for Life (DFL) is here, with the theme “Love, Intimacy and Human Connection”.
A plethora of theatre performances, workshops, sex talk series and community dialogues are taking place at the Wits Theatre. The festival started this week and runs till the end of the month.
It will offer a platform for audiences to critique social change interventions in sex-related issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and abuse.
In the opening address for the festival, DFL director Warren Nebe, said the festival was launched as an initiative to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.
He said the aim of the festival is to explore human connections in all its shapes and forms. DFL wanted to create a festival thats transcends race, class, gender and sexualities.
Tarryn Lee, Sex Actually festival director, said this year the festival is a public intervention looking to use exciting mediums to talk about sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS since it is often viewed as a heavy subject. They use dialogue to break the silence around the stigmas attached to taboo issues.
“In South Africa specifically, sex is often a very heavy subject in our society … It’s not always a celebrated subject and is also filled with many myths and taboos,” she said.
TALK SEX: Drama For Life students perform Ships by Night by Megan Godsell in the opening of Sex Actually festival at Wits Theatre. Photo: Anazi Zote
Lee said the myths and taboos around sex need to be de-mystified and brought to light so that sex-related issues “are challenged in our community, our families and work space”.
South African National AIDS Council (SANCA) Deputy Chairperson, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, appeared at the official opening of the Sex Actually festival. Her opening address started by praising women for their fight for human rights.
“By talking we facilitate dialogue and conversation about the certain taboos that encircle our society,” Letsike said.
Although she highlighted the triumphs of women who fought political struggles she said the current fight over HIV/AIDS is prevalent in young women aged 15-24. According to the Mail & Guardian, the rate of HIV amongst females is four times higher than that of males in the same age group.
“We have committed to really focus on young women,” said Letsike, adding that SANCA had also launched the Zazi campaign, which is about knowing yourself, embracing yourself and knowing your status, ” Letsike said.
Zazi is a Zulu word meaning “know yourself”. It reminds women to know their inner strength, value and what it means to be themselves so they can overcome adversity. The programme was launched at the University of Johannesburg on Soweto campus in partnership with the Department of Social Development.
In the meanwhile, Wits students at DFL take pride in this year’s festival performances because it raises awareness on issues which continually face youth. Damilola Apotieri, Masters student at DFL, thinks the festival is a good opportunity for students to lend themselves to different conversations around sex and relationships in hopes to generate more knowledge on these issues.
“Personally, I will recommend that all Wits students attend as there can never be any better platform to engage with such issues,” Apotieri said.
Low night shift allowances for Campus Control are allegedly leading to increased absenteeism among security guards—and putting students in danger.
Security guards are paid a monthly night shift allowance of R203.94.
They work seven night shifts a month, each of which are 12 hours long. This means they are paid about R29 per night shift in addition to their basic salary.
Chairperson of the Wits branch of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) Nnwamato Sadiki said the low allowance and long hours have started a trend of absenteeism amongst security guards working the night shift.
“Each and every shift you cannot find people that are on shift, some of them are reporting they are sick and some of them are reporting that they are not interested in coming due to various reasons,” said Sadiki.
Campus Control security guards are meant to be posted in the Braamfontein area for the protection of students who live in the area.
Campus Control liaison manager Lucky Khumela said security guards did take off work for sick leave or other reasons. He could not say whether there was increased absenteeism due to unhappiness with the night shift allowance.
“I cannot say no or it’s not a problem that has been identified yet because you find that people get sick or they need to get off work,” Khumela said.
UNDER WAGE: Guards from Wits campus control are unhappy with their night shift allowance. Wits union leader, Nnwamato Sadiki, says guards are earning an extra R203.94 for the seven night shifts they are required to do per month. They want R272. Photo Anazi Zote
“I have never really heard of any issue that workers are reluctant to come to work because of low pay. Wits University is competitive when it comes to campus security companies especially in comparison to other universities,” he said.
However, Wits Vuvuzela reporters who live in the area have noticed a lack of visible Campus Control security guards. Many students also said they felt unsafe in the area, especially when they stay late at school to complete their assignments and study for exams.
Matsepo Khumalo, 1st year BA in Dramatic Arts, said she feels unsafe in Braamfontein without security guards.
“I witnessed a mugging outside Bridgeview and that is relatively close to campus. It is really scary to think that you can be mugged near campus … It would be nice to just walk freely,” Khumalo said.
Khumalo told Wits Vuvuzela that while Campus Control was short-staffed, shifts were adequately staffed even after security guards call in sick.
“Although we are we are very short-staffed we are fortunate that we have security officers who stay around Braamfontein and some of them stay on campus. Whenever someone books off sick another security guard will come to replace him,” Khumela said.
Sadiki said the safety of students could be comprised because security guards are not motivated to work.
“We can’t say we need to compromise the lives of the students but if we are not getting enough of what we deserve and of what we have worked for, it can bring the morale down,” Sadiki said.
Deputy chairperson of Wits Nehawu Billy Cebekhulu said the disputes over the night shift allowance has been going on since 2009.
According to a Wits human resources memorandum sent to Nehawu in March of this year, management acknowledged that the night shift allowance had not increased for six years to 2008 from 2002. It said the night allowance “remained constant for reasons of security industry compliance.”
However, management said that while the allowance was fixed, the total pay package for security guards increased “without fail” every year.
Khumela denied that Campus Control security guards were underpaid.
“Wits University pay their security well and if that was not the case there would be no security guards on campus,” said Khumela.
But Cebekhulu told Wits Vuvuzela that Wits security guards were receiving lower night allowances when compared to the University of Johannesburg.
Sadiki said the security guards believe they are also receiving lower pay packages when compared to other service staff at Wits. He feels Campus Control are not being treated equally to the people they are protecting.
“I am disappointed in Wits because I thought it was an institution with a good reputation since it produced intellectual students.
“They are getting exposure from green pastures everywhere but they forget the environment of working classes, which is the security officers on campus, is deteriorating,” Sadiki said.
Nehawu said they were planning on taking action with regards to the night shift allowances to upper management at Wits.
FESTIVAL: “Hamlet” one of the productions from the 969 festival was chosen among the top 20 shows selected from the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Photo: Zelmarie Goosen
Joburgers looking for a taste of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival have until Sunday to plunge into 969 festival at the Wits Theatre.
The festival showcases 20 of the top performances from art festivals main stages as well as the fringe.
Wits Theatre director Gita Pather called 969 festival a success with sold out performances all week. She said organising the festival is a lot of hard work but her job is made easier because she selects productions only from the Grahamstown festival to bring to Wits.
“This university is about collaboration, about pushing the boundaries of the work we do in whatever we do … and the Wits Theatre is about providing an incubator for new talent,” Pather said.
One of the key changes made this year was moving 969 festival closer to the national event in Grahamstown.
Pather said this year’s festival gained a unique aspect because it has been filled with immensely talented people and different plays which had a mix of dance, drama, physical theatre and stand-up comedy. “I think all theatres and all festivals reflect their artistic directors and their particular bent towards the arts,” said Pather.
One of the productions for the 969 festival, Hamlet directed by Jenine Collocott, had its first performance on Wednesday night with a good turnout. Collocott describes the play as a comedia delighte of the Shakespearean Hamlet.
Hamlet is a 35-minute performance which consists of comedy, physical theatre, and improvisation which is stylistically inspired by the story of Hamlet. It features actors James Cairns, Jaques De Silva and Taryn Bennett.
A student production, Ira, is a physical theatre performance which explores the strange nature of human emotions and how we express or supress them.
It is directed by Wits drama students Daniel Geddes and Mark Tatham. Geddes said he felt good about performing in this year’s 969 festival as it was his first time.
“It’s exciting and it’s also nice to have that it is also recognised in a bigger platform outside of student work,” he said.
They have also recently performed at film festivals in Grahamstown and Pretoria but Geddes says he is glad to be home at Wits because he enjoys the support of his peers.
“It’s nice coming back to Wits where your peers are kind of keen to see it,” Geddes said.
The 969 Festival was originally funded by the Johannesburg Development Agency and Wits University to give locals the opportunity to experience the national arts festival without traveling the 969 kilometres to Grahamstown.
A discussion on property rights and traditional leadership turned its attention to the impact of customary law on local communities and women in particular.
Hosted by Wiser at Wits University on Monday afternoon, the panel discussion was part of the Public Positions on History and Politics series.
Director of the Rural Women’s Action Project (RWAR) Dr Aninka Claassens presented a paper which highlighted the negative impact of customary law on women.
She said these laws deny women their right to claim land because the law was formed pre-1994 in favour of a patriarchal system. According to Claassens, official customary laws deny ordinary citizens the right to exercise their democratic rights.
She told Wits Vuvuzela that these customary laws have serious repercussions on democratic rights for people in rural areas because they have to pay an annual tribal levy to show allegiance to their tribe.
“If you do not pay an annual tribal levy, you won’t get a proof of address letter from the chief and if you don’t have that you can’t get a child support grant, you can’t get an ID book,” Claassens said.
She said the situation is worsening with “people being forced to pretend to pay allegiance just to practice their rights as ordinary citizens.”
Gender activist, Nomboniso Gasa, from University of Cape Town, also weighed in on the customary law debate.
“… Government cannot say that because you live in Cofimvaba that this version of customary law must apply to you,” she said.
She continued to say that although she originally comes from Cofimvaba, a small remote area in the Eastern Cape, she thinks she should not be forced to obey certain customary laws.
Gavin Capps, from Society, Work and Development Institute at Wits, said living custom, which is not written in statute is not necessarily a bad thing but official customary laws underestimate democratic forms of decision-making.
However, he said, defining culture and deciding what part of it could be practised is a complex issue which cannot easily contested or changed.
“The point being then is the struggle over who defines culture, tradition and customary law and this has been an ongoing struggle ever since the project begun,” he said.
Nearly 500 delegates were hosted by Wits University for the 14th congress of the Pan-African Archeological Association this week. Photo: Anazi Zote.
It’s been over 60 years since the Pan African Archeological Association and Related Studies (PAA) lost its bid to come to South Africa for its second congress. In 1948, the nationalist government withdrew its support for the congress and delegates made their way to Algiers in 1951.
This week, Wits University, initially intended as the 1951 venue, hosted PAA members from all corners of the continent at the 14th installation of their congress.
One of the conference organisers, Dr Karim Sadar, who lectures archaeology at Wits University, said the conference was a landmark event.
Sadar explained that the apartheid government did not want to associate with other African countries because it believed in racial segregation.
President of the association, Benjamin Smith, a former Wits professor, described the congress as the biggest gathering of PAA members so far with almost 500 participants: “We have delegates coming from across Africa and this is the largest Pan African congress we have ever held,” he said.
Delegates were treated to oral and poster presentations around the theme: ‘African Archeology without frontiers.”
Speaking at the opening of the congress on Monday this week, deputy director general in the Department of Science and Technology, Professor Yonah Seleti praised the work of the PAA and its members.
“The work that you do contributes not only to the scientific knowledge around origins, but also contributes to our social cohesion and cultural identity, and much more, it carves a path to modernity which is Africa, Seleti said.