IZIKO FOUNDING EDITORS MAKE IT BIG
By: Amanda Buthelezi
JournalismIziko’s six founding editors graduated Cum laude last month at the Durban University of Technology Sports Centre. Tinashe Watungwa, Tony Manyangadze, Sphelele Ngubane, Nomfundo Xolo, Raymond Padya and Leslie Mudzudza celebrated graduation day together. They did not only celebrated their achievement of graduating but also being the graduating group that was intensely involved in the starting of the institution’s online newspaper, JournalismIziko.
It was in June 2012, when all of them were still doing their second year, that their Lecturer, Maud Blose, first introduced this concept to them. According to Blose, the idea was to start an online newspaper for Journalism students- one that they could use to write for and to practise their writing skills.
“Having returned from an international university that emphasised the importance of experience, I saw it best to develop a platform where my students could gain practical experience and be able to compete with their peers in the industry. And like we’ve witnessed with the former JournalismIziko editors, the proof is indeed in the pudding,” said Blose proudly.
One of the first challenges the team met was thinking up a name for the online publication. Students had to each hand in an idea of a potential name and the best one was chosen. Sphelele Ngubane, who came up with the name recalls what really inspired him to come up with the name ‘Iziko’.
“The name emanated from the surroundings I saw during my childhood. I am a Zulu man from a simple family where we actually had iziko while I was growing up. Although we did not use it for daily cooking but on special occasions and during winter, my grandmother would start the fire and call us to gather around ‘iziko’ for the heat. When we sat there, she used to tell us stories and fairy tales. So when Maud Blose came up with the idea of having this news site, I was honoured to be given the opportunity to name the site. So for me it was like students will gather and share stories,” said Ngubane who not only passed with a cum laude but also received the Deans Merit award.
Once the site was named, Section Editors were chosen to edit and manage the content.
“It was tough getting off the ground. Maud started the initiative…we were its supporters, we bore the thing together,” said Tinashe Watungwa.
The Section Editors started by encouraging other journalism students to write stories that they would edit and publish even way before the website went live. The idea was to have enough stories to upload on to the site once it was live. But this was not an easy task. Watungwa, the former Current Affairs Section editor recollected the challenges the team faced. “Getting stories was tough as reporters needed to be pushed. Editing people’s stories who are the same age as you was a challenge”.
Nomfundo Xolo, who was the first Feature and Review Section Editor for the website echoed similar sentiments, “We had to get stories for nearly a year before we went live. It was not easy to convince students to write because the site was not yet ready. It was a different case for me because I was doing features and features don’t expire, but other sections had a harder time because hard news and sports news have a very short shelf life.”
It was only in March 2013 that the site went live. The founding editors were now doing third year and preparing to go to do their internship. Tony Manyangadze, the then JournalismIziko’s Multimedia Section Editor recalls how it was going live after a very long but necessary wait.
“It was on March 6, 2013 that I got the privilege of uploading the first ever story on the JournalismIziko website. I will never forget this day, having the honour to have the first story to be published on the website is a memory I will always treasure. It was a long wait and we met a lot of challenges from getting the site up to creating the logo. A lot of people from other departments were involved and even though they had tight schedules, they were willing to assist us.”
“Challenges we faced were dire but we had to go through fire for us to shine and we actually did. We went through a lot and we worked as a team,” added Tony.
JournalismIziko also created internships for Raymond Padya and Tony Manyangadze.
“I had the privilege of being one of the first people to intern at JournalismIziko. Tony and I were the first interns so it’s actually ground breaking. It is now possible for people to serve their Internship at Iziko. The site is a growing and a reputable publication. It is the legacy that we are leaving and I encourage students to continue with the legacy,” said Raymond Padya.
After juggling class, jobs and internships the editorial team has made it big. Their parents and friends were all smiles, though some tears witnessing the graduates. The most proud was Maud Blose who was sitting on the edge of her seat to witness.
“As the founder and executive editor of Journalismiziko, I’m lost for words to describe the joy and pride I’m feeling towards the academic excellence achieved by the section editors. It just goes to show that all the knowledge acquired in the classroom, hard work and practical experience was not exercised in vain. These are surely leaders in the making,” she said.
Today it is a compulsory component for first, second and third year students to write for the online publication in order to pass the year. “It is actually good because at the end of the day when looking for a job and wanting to go into the field it helps you with your portfolio. If you have not published before, it’s difficult for you to get a job. Iziko gives you something tangible that shows people that you are capable of writing stories. It might seem a bit harsh but it’s for your own good,” said Tony Manyangadze.
It is no surprise the hall was full of screams and excitement. The journalists had excelled and they were reaping the benefits. They worked tirelessly and now they are ready to head into the real world and carry on achieving their best.