Interview with ART STATE’s news editor Teboho Mpholo on the role of student media in the campus community.
Of what import is student media?
Like main stream media, student media’s main objective is to inform, educate and entertain the student community. In a time when information is ridiculed, and everyone is confused and rumours are trending on social media, facts matter the most and students depend on the three platforms for accurate information.
Is that possible in the milieu of censorship
Getting the actual job done of keeping students informed about everything happening on campus can be tricky as management will constantly try to protect the institution’s image by not making it easy for certain stories to be published. This can be very frustrating because student media community needs breaking news as soon as it happens and this is hardly achieved because the university itself treats student media like a threat.
What’s in it for the students?
It is important that students see student media as theirs. They must take control over what goes on air and the content that is published in the newspaper. The platforms do not belong to management, they are there for to develop students who are interested in becoming professionals in the media industry as well as challenging issues that affect student community at large.
Many people think writing is easy, it is not; my first article was a disaster. I realised this after it was published. My biggest fear was making mistakes but unfortunately they could not be avoided. My colleague and I mixed up a source’s name and we were sued by the university. That became an eye opener and a lesson that anything that one writes as journalist can change lives of others in the worst or best way. It can also change your life as journalist because your career can end because of a two paragraph article.
Yet you’re still here
Even though all that transpired, I did not give up because I wanted to become a better writer. I used what I was taught in class as a basis to improve my writing.
It must have been quite a journey
Indeed. I also learnt that one can never become a good writer if they do not read. I became a good news writer because I read a lot of newspapers and followed campus politics. In the three years that I worked in student media, I grew as a journalist and a leader to those I worked with.
How far would you go for your craft?
I took risks because I loved my job and I was starting to see student media from a bigger picture and I worked towards making the campus newspaper a success. Becoming an Editor in Chief was never a part of the plan. I developed a bigger mission and vision for the paper which was mostly inspired by Media and Journalism course lacking a practical side. Then I realised that IRAWA can be a platform that will not only accommodate those who love writing but a place of development for students doing my course.
Parting shot to aspirant journos?
The only way to achieve one’s aspirations is through hard work and dedication. Journalism is a very interesting field and I would encourage anyone who would like to start their own publication to make sure that before anything else they can handle criticism and they should be able to stand for what they believe in. Most importantly they should fight for the independence of their publication because as long as management can still control certain parts of their work they will remain irrelevant to the student population.
Teboho Mpholo is the former editor in chief of the official UFS student newspaper IRAWA.