Passion for journalism at SPI newspaper management course

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By Ettione Ferreira

GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – The Essentials of Newspaper Management (EONM) course run by the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership at Rhodes University drew participants from several African countries, with many of them saying they had come not only to learn but to share their knowledge and experiences with colleagues.

The course took place from 30 May to 3 June.

Oteng Chilume, from the Botswana Gazette, started in the media industry in 2010 when he became a radio show host and training assistant co-ordinator. Chilume was not always involved in the media as he started his career as research assistant in 2001 and went on to become an English and social studies teacher in 2008.

“I always had a passion for journalism and have always been interested in current affairs,” he says, noting that this had led him to join the media full-time in 2014 as Head of News and later in 2015 as Chief Sub-Editor of the Botswana Gazette. The EONM course was the first time Chilume entered a media course.

Other participants have been involved with the media for longer. One such participant is Ceasar Zvayi from Zimbabwe who started his career in 2004 as a senior political reporter for the largest daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, The Herald.

He showed great potential and was promoted only a year later to political editor. In 2009 he was promoted to deputy editor before stepping up the ladder once again in 2013 to become the editor. He currently still holds this position and leads a staff of 65 reporters and editors in his twelfth year in journalism. He decided to join the course to gain better managerial skills and found the course very useful. “I leave a much richer person…we dealt with a diverse collection of colleagues…it was very worthwhile,” he says.

The course provided insights into advertising and marketing, human resources management, as well as media leadership and management, among other modules.  “I’ve been enlightened in specifically human resources management,” said Joseph Mwenda, deputy managing director and news editor of The Post in Zambia.

Mwenda has been a journalist since 2005 and has worked in different positions, including  being on the entertainment desk, sports desk, photography desk and the political desk, before being promoted to news editor, a position he still holds today. Mwenda says: “Being a journalist, you usually focus on the editorial and with this course you can focus on their (staff) personal and professional needs.”

The night editor of The Star in Johannesburg, Mapaseka Mogotsi, felt that the course sharpened her leadership skills. “I’m more into the editorial part but want to be able to lead them and empower them…I’ve learned as a leader you don’t have to take your views as final view.”

Mogotsi especially enjoyed the module on leadership and ethics as well as learning more about how branding and advertising teams work differently to editorial. Mogotsi joined the media industry in 2001 when the Independent Group advertised for trainee black subeditors. In 2002 she was appointed full-time at The Star and went on to become night editor in 2008. “Since my appointment, I have proven myself as an industrious employee and manager able to manage complex and multiple tasks that are necessary to produce a quality newspaper,” she says.

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