SLICE: Finding more than I bargained for in journalism

The world of journalism is awash with endless possibilities, and after entering it with the aim of ending up in broadcast journalism – a year’s worth of training has unveiled many other interests I never imagined I had.

Looking back to my high school days, I had often watched e-News and fell deeply in love with broadcast journalism after seeing anchor Nikiwe Bikitsha doing a live crossing during the funeral of the late great Nelson Mandela and testing prominent South Africans with tough questions.

As I took in her work on a daily basis, I admired the way she articulated herself, put corrupt officials in the hot seat by asking them tough questions live on air and how she moved effortlessly between television and radio.

Bikitsha certainly inspired me to pursue journalism with the hopes of one day being a senior news anchor on one of the world’s respected news channels. And so, with this in mind, I started my honours in journalism and media studies degree at Wits University in 2018.

After getting admitted to the journalism honours programme, I chose to major in television/videography with the aim of learning how to speak with confidence and poise in front of the camera before I finished my degree.

Little did I know that I would end up learning how to operate a camera, to be the one interviewing people from behind the camera and editing the footage into an entire news or lifestyle package.

I have basically learned how to produce videos that have more than just talking heads, but include sequences, cutaways and whatever else is needed to make a great video even fit for television. This was certainly way more than I had bargained for and I fell in love with the craft more and more as the year progressed.

The scope of experience I gained in the Wits journalism department proved that videography was not the only aspect of the course that became my ‘thing’. Investigating and writing ‘spicy’ stories, as my peers would call them, became one of my favourite things to do as a young journalist.

The excitement that came with hearing the rumours about a certain professor being dismissed from the university for nondisclosure of a relationship with his student was exciting enough, but it didn’t match the thrill of digging deeper,proving the story was actually true, and getting to interview all the people involved.

Beyond those spicy stories though, I also admired feature writing from a distance. After having to work on a feature article for the 2018 in depth project, I learned how difficult it is to find the right words to describe one’s surroundings in the form of showing instead of telling. Although I have not perfected the art of feature writing as yet, I certainly know a thing or two about such articles, all thanks to my mentors.

Now that I am a qualified journalist, I have come to appreciate the multifaceted field of journalism and certainly look forward to using each and every one of my skills to expand my horizons as opposed to only heading to the one thing that brought me to Wits Journalism, broadcast journalism.


PROFILE: Nikiwe Bikitsha is setting the world on fire

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Nikiwe Bikitsha has had an illustrious journalism career but continues to expand her skills through further study. Photo: Provided.

Nikiwe Bikitsha is a leading South African broadcast journalist and columnist. She was recently interviewed by her classmate Moira Muller as they both attended a Wits certificate course in online journalism. 

Nikiwe Bikitsha is the epitome of her own favourite quote by Saint Catherine of Sienna: “be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Since starting as a trainee reporter with Cape Talk radio in 1997, Nikiwe has had the kind of media career that most can only dream of. She’s been associated with most big-name radio and television channels and has had the opportunity to interview the likes of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.  “My most recent highlight has to be covering the funeral of Nelson Mandela and being able to bring that story to the world on TV, as we mourned this remarkable leader,” Bikitsha says.

Urban terror in Cape Town fuelled her interest early on in her career, but she later shifted her focus to politics, and most recently to political economy, having travelled to Mauritius and the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Travelling, in fact, is Nikiwe’s favourite pasttime. She has travelled extensively to the US, Europe and Africa and intends on exploring West Africa next. “I never tire of travelling. It opens the mind and I treasure those experiences.”

Earlier this year Bikitsha made the decision to pursue a freelance career and to head back to university. In 2010, she left SouthAfrica to study in the United States and it seems the urge to study further hasn’t left yet.

Despite her focus on radio and television, Nikiwe advises junior journalists to ensure they are able to create and generate content for the digital space as the media is a dynamic and evolving space at the moment. “It’s very fulfilling to be at the coal face of what is happening in the country and the world,” she says.

“There is a thrill and enormous responsibility which comes with being able to inform, educate people about news developments.”