As journalists we often rely on people to assist us in our quest for the truth. We need information, data and figures. We rely on tips-offs, require commentary and chase people endlessly. Needless to say this can be troublesome and tiring when working towards a deadline.
I still find myself surprised at the widespread lack of professionalism in the media industry. There are people who aren’t very good at their jobs or who don’t do them at all. Spokespeople who neglect to answer their phones, spin-doctors who answer your questions by saying a whole lot of nothing, journalists who fail to submit on time and people who are nowhere to be found when you need their much required comment. It has become part of our job spec to chase and nag and chase some more.
In this sphere of incompetence, it is a godsend to find the gems who go beyond their job description. The professionals who are efficient and ever ready. Those who are willing to assist, despite their busy schedules. They are a rare commodity, they are rubies in the rough.
The first of these uncut diamonds would have to be Jane Duncan, executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute. My colleague often refers to Duncan as “dial-a-comment” as she is always available to give her take on all media freedom issues. When Duncan receives a call she will willingly dissect any topic thrown at her, in a highly-intelligible and well-articulated manner. More-so Duncan will take her time to delve into the inner workings of the SABC Board or probe the technicalities of the constitution for those who are not as clued up as she.
As far as media commentators go Professor Anton Harber from Wits University and the University of Cape Town’s Dr Wallace Chuma are gold mines. Both exude nothing but professionalism and passion.
I often have to contact Icasa for information and fortunately thanks to its capable manager for media and stakeholders liaison, Sekgoela Sekgoela, it is always smooth sailing. Not only does he allow me to pick his knowledgeable brain but he will also track down that which he is uncertain of and later return my call… that is efficiency at its best.
The findings of researchers always add value to one’s work, it is especially pleasant when dealing with the likes of Sophie Taunyane, AIS help desk consultant from AC Nielsen, the Audit Bureau of Circulations’s administrator Mishack Nekhavhambe and SAARF’s technical manger and technical support executive, Michelle Boehme and Claire Milne respectively, all of whom are extremely thorough and unbelievably helpful.
A deadline is crucial to a journalist, it is never to be missed. In practice, however, this is not always the case. After having commissioned a number of stories to journalists who don’t deliver it makes one appreciate the Wendy Knowlers (consumer journalist for the Independent Newspapers group ) and Ray Hartleys (editor of The Times), who never fail to produce quality on time.
Lastly, a competent PR is always a treasure, such as the PR team at Primedia Broadcasting including Natasha Wadvalla, Kate Goliath, Pippa Rowles, Vanessa Pappas, Tebogo Photo and Shelley Doyle and the team at M-Net including Maud Naule and Nompelo Ndzimela.
Thank you to all those who do their jobs, making mine a whole lot easier.
I would love to name the opposite end of the spectrum, but fear they would treat me even worse.