Working in his dream job: Bongani Siqoko (@SiqokoDD ) is editor of the Daily Dispatch, having worked on the newspaper since 1998.
What drew you to the media? Initially it was to change the world. I was young, naïve and overzealous and really believed that the power of the pen could bring about change in the world.
Do you have any hidden talents? I am a well-above-average self-taught chef.
What is your best characteristic and your biggest flaw? I am a very good listener. I listen to everyone around me and I am able to take advice irrespective of where it comes from.
Sometimes people tend to take advantage of my good nature.
If you weren’t in the media, what would you be doing? For me it was always journalism, law or politics. These days my interest in politics is only academic. Also, don’t be surprised to hear that I have gone back to university to pursue a degree in law.
What moment do you regard as career defining? When I decided to take a sabbatical in 2010 and enrol for an MA in International Journalism at City University London, United Kingdom.
What have you learnt the hard way? You can’t please everybody all of the time.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever been given? The best: As an editor you must never create stars in your newsroom. Treat everyone the same and give everyone the same opportunities. The worst: When I was told I should know my limitations. I have ignored that because we have no limits here at the Dispatch.
Who do you admire most? I will have to mention my two former Daily Dispatch editors. Phylicia Oppelt, who is now editing the Sunday Times. She is the one person who saw potential in me when she joined the Dispatch as editor in 2005. I will never forget what she did for us. The other is Andrew Trench. He is a newspaper man through and through and I like how his mind works.
What quote best describes the way you see the world? “I may not be able to change the world I see around me, but I can change the way I see the world within me.” Author unknown.
What is your favourite holiday spot and why? A few years back my wife, my two kids and I started exploring the Wild Coast. We have been to most resorts along the Wild Coast and we just cannot get enough.
What book do you wish you had written? Michelle Wrong’s ‘Our Time To Eat – The Confessions of the Kenyan Whistle-Blower’. The story has so many similarities to what is happening here in my home province, from how those Kenyan politicians dished out patronage to how endemic corruption was in the Kenyan government.
What are you addicted to? My colleagues say I am addicted to Instagram and Kaizer Chiefs. Not sure if I agree with them though.
What are you afraid of? Failing my son and not being able to be the role model he needs me to be. He believes in me so much that sometimes I am scared that I won’t live up to his expectations.
What do you regret most? I don’t do regrets.
What cheers you up the most? Seeing my two kids up and running and ready to confront the challenges of the day. They are the reason I wake up early in the morning, ready to conquer the world.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date? One afternoon in February last year when our publisher at the time, Andrew Gill, called me into the office of my predecessor to offer me the editorship of the Dispatch. Though I had wanted this job for so long, I did not know how to react to the news.
What do you enjoy most about editing the Daily Dispatch? It has always been my dream to edit the Dispatch, my hometown newspaper. The paper holds a special place in this community. Every day at the Dispatch we try and produce a newspaper that is reflective of this community.
It is such a joy to work with my incredible team. They work so hard to give our readers a reason to smile, to shock them and move them into action, and we try and surprise them.
What do you believe is the future of daily newspapers? It is a bloodbath out there and newspapers have to innovate in order to survive. I still think there is a bright future for newspapers. We have to innovate and move with the times if we are to survive. The only daily newspapers that will survive are those producing unique and relevant content.
How do you plan to keep your newspaper punching above its weight? By continuing to produce a newspaper that is hyper-local, unique, relevant and that tells the story of this province better than anybody else.
What are your personal goals? In the short-term my goal is to continue growing the Dispatch and take it to every corner in the Eastern Cape.
This story was first published in the September 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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