Johnny Masilela, letter from the Editor

Blushing journalist becomes part of the story


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 124

Working as a reporter at the Pretoria News, we laboured under the stewardship of no-nonsense news editor, Roy Devenish.

My own relationship with Roy dated back to my cub reporter days at the now defunct Rand Daily Mail.

Oftentimes reporters go out on assignments, only to be manhandled and roughed up by members of one group or the other.

In my case I worked with the late photographer, Etienne Roux, on political unrest involving the militant Congress of South African Students (Cosas), in the Pretoria township of Mamelodi.

For some weird reason the young lions charged at our pool car, crying blue murder at me, mistaking yours truly for Mpho Kobue of the Pretoria bureau of the Sunday Times.

I survived by the skin of my teeth when one of the revolutionaries warded off the attack, persuading the mob I was not Mpho Kobue, but Johnny Masilela of the Pretoria News.

Back at the newsroom I reported this to Roy, who frowned and used his favourite line: “You are not allowed to become part of the story, old chap. What I expect from you is a report on the unrest, and not about yourself.”

And therefore, being roughed up became part of the day in the life of a journalist.

As for Mpho of the Sunday Times, the man just laughed when I sensitised him about the incident.

Having said that, last week I found myself – blushing and blinking – being dragged into the limelight as part of the story.

Both The BEAT and our sister publication, Die Pos/The Post, carried reports and pictures about how yours truly, among other colleagues, had been triumphant on the occasion of the Caxton Excellence Awards.

In case you were away on holiday last week, the judges named me the Caxton Excellence Awards Best Columnist of the Year.

The BEAT’s graphic designer, Lesley Barnard, used no less than three of my pictures, two passport-sized, and the other a group picture of The BEAT/Die Pos family, comprising of the tireless hack Andries van der Hyde, Die Pos editor Keina Swart, manager Bea Emslie, proof-reader Carina Bester, and myself.

The cherry on top was a glowing article by TK Mashaba, somewhat celebrating the team’s achievements at the national awards.

Next door at Die Pos/The Post, the newspaper went for broke, with an article and a total of six pictures, among these my own picture dressed to the nines under the Sophiatown klevah (streetwise) theme.

Die Pos/The Post also went lyrical about our great performance at the awards, which we were entering for the very first time.

One of my favourite photojournalists, Herman Steyn, had three of his pictures featured prominently in different categories.

Thank you for shaping my career as a younger reporter, Mr Roy Devenish.

But then part of the story, my foot!

16 months ago       28 March 2018