Media Workshop of 18 May

BY By Mikhayla Michaels

Old Girl Ma’aasha Ismail joined the Riebeek Media Club on 18 May educating 36 learners about career choices, the work place, a positive work ethic, the world of journalism and acquiring skills. This was to give an insight to our girls on a journalist’s lifestyle on a daily basis and to tell us about the fundamental roles of a journalist in today’s society.
Ma’aasha Ismail is a Riebeek Old Girl (Class of 2004) who is ambitious, hard-working, radiant and filled with curiosity. She studied journalism at NMMU for 4 years and worked for 10 years for the Herald as a journalist and sub editor. Ma’aasha has also been a designer, paginator (Times media) and a production supervisor. She has designed news pages, met daily deadlines, photographed events, broke epic stories by being in the right place at the right time. She identified as important these traits: the ability to evaluate what events are newsworthy, source story ideas weekly, write and report on current news, generate news awareness about important community activities, work on having exactly what it takes to take on social media. New interns can be seen as incompetent and inadequate but Ma’aasha’s work ethic and skills were noticed. She worked hard to achieve all her goals she set out for herself in the field of journalism and proudly said, “In journalism, I have laid a foundation.” Even though she made a sudden change after a decade and decided to study a PGCE, she would not change a thing about her career path. On being asked what she would do if she could go back in time and decide between teaching and journalism, she unapologetically replied, “I would not change anything.”
Her advice included: All stories need to be newsworthy.  It might be a newsworthy to you but the criteria is the grand scheme of things.  The typical day of a journalist depends on what beat you are on and involves loads of coffee. The day starts with a morning diary meeting. The newsroom organisation structure is in a hierarchy of roles. It is like a madhouse that results in a newspaper that thousands read the next day.  Some of the challenges are the public perceptions of what you write, letters to the editor that are critical, lazy writers who depend on subs, diary meeting story proposals for the day.  Be assertive.  You face interesting situations – intimidation, protests, gang violence, weird and wonderful people, eccentric characters who all feel their story must be shared.  As a photographer it is not about your equipment – when you go to a restaurant, you do not compliment the chef on his great pots and pans but on his skill level.  Taking photographs for a newspaper involves the context and the content.  Remember to take portrait and landscape photographs as this will be an advantage for those page setting the newspaper.  An intern must show initiative, be involved in every aspect, show curiosity and leave the journalists’ coffee cups alone.  To be a journalist is not a job description, it is to embody traits that cannot be described in words.  It is very important to network as it is about who you know and not what you know. 
One of her best stories was that of a homeless prostitute who needed a home for her children because she was HIV positive and wanted a better life for her children.  She was able to help this lady in spite of the notion that a journalist should not get involved. One of her worst stories was writing about a cat enthusiast who simply would not let her leave the house after the interview. 
Our girls were privileged to have an opportunity to be taught valuable life lessons. We were not just intrigued by her humbleness after all her success in journalism but we were also motivated to persevere in what we feel passionate about and to find what our calling as an individual is. Ma’aasha deeply inspired our girls by her wise words that had let our girls acknowledge what the true world of journalism is about.

 May 22, 2017
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2017 continued
By Mikhayla Michaels

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