'Call me Kanthan'

Monday, 15 September 2003

Call me Kanthan.*

Some of you come from technikons, others come from universities, and each of you is here because you want to be a journalist.

I have been calling myself a journalist for 22 years. Our Chief Operating Officer, Quraysh Patel, is ten years my senior. Our editor-in-chief, Joe Thloloe, is twenty years my senior. All of us are still learning. This is because journalism is the only career that cannot be learned at a tertiary institution. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, auto-electricians, blacksmiths, prostitutes, taxi drivers – all have the luxury of being able to study for a few short years, and then being able to consider themselves to be qualified. As a journalist, not only do you need to be able to understand what it is that each of those people do, but also to be able to explain that to others.

What we hope to do with you over the next 12 months is to try to teach you ways in which you can continue that learning process for the rest of your lives, and to have fun doing so.

Each of the modules you will be working on is a building block to equip you with practical skills as television reporters. Your modules will occupy you for most of the week. You will be assigned to these by drawing lots. During this time, your mentor is your only link to reality. Attach yourself to him or her, ask questions, and learn how to do his or her job. Your work hours will be the same as his or hers.

There will be one other learner who draws the same category as you. I will be referring to this person as your twin. As often as is possible, you should get together with your twin and compare notes. Your twin’s mentor will have a different style of teaching, and different priorities, so sharing information with your twin helps both of you.

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On Fridays between 9h00-12h00, we will gather in the conference room on the third floor for the weekly lecture or workshop. This is the only opportunity you will have to interact with each other as a group. Most sessions will be conducted by myself, or by my colleagues Joe Thloloe and Debora Patta.


Each of you has been given a file. This note is the first of several things to be placed in that file which you will have to read. Readings will be taken from a variety of sources—newspapers, journals, textbooks, and novels. Many of these readings will contradict each other. I expect you to be able to answer questions around what you have been given to read, and I expect you to be able to ask questions of me and of each other around what you have been given to read.

You will also be expected to be finding other things to read which you believe will make you a better journalist. You will be expected to motivate to your colleagues as to why you have chosen that reading matter.


If you wish to be a journalist, you will need to keep a journal. Every Monday starting next week, each of you needs to draw up a journal entry telling me a story that you have come across over the past week. I do not expect hundreds of words. I do expect the words that you share with me to be giving me an indication that you are thinking about what you have written. Your journal should also record your own story ideas. And your journal should also record what you have learnt from your mentor, and from your twin. I will share selections from your journal with your colleagues at the Friday sessions.


As part of your responsibilities, you will need to make use of company telephones. Each of you will be given a personal phone code to allow you to make calls. You will be expected to account for all calls, and the cost of any personal calls made will be deducted from your stipend. Please limit your personal calls to a maximum of three minutes.


There are a handful of people you need to be aware of:

  • Anne Campbell, Human Resources, x4601: Anne is the person who has drawn up your contracts, and ensures the practical issues such as payments and leave are taken care of.
  • Beverley Mouton, Administration, x4501: Beverley will arrange access tags and telephone calling codes.
  • Lorraine Baatjes, Newsroom, x4700: Lorraine is my right-arm in the newsroom and mother to most of the staff. She will be able to answer just about any question relating to the newsroom, including what shifts you will be expected to work.
  • Samantha Nortier, Corporate Affairs, x4722: Sam is my P.A. and keeps track of my time. If you need to see me, call Sam and have her block out space in my diary.
  • Nicky Petersen, Operations, x4661: Nicky is coordinator of your learnership programme, and will be keeping track of your progress. You will need to get your journal entries to her for filing, and she will forward them to me. She will also be following your progress with your mentors. Nicky should be your first resource for just about anything.

That’s enough for now. The future starts here. Welcome aboard.

Kanthan Pillay



[*] Congratulations if you recognise the literary allusion.