Johnny Masilela, The BEAT editor. Photo: TK Mashaba

Oh how we newspapermen and women hate holidays


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 104

To understand how both print and electronic newsrooms work, from time to time our stakeholders such as English grammar educators are encouraged to arrange for a visit.

This letter from the editor was necessitated by the tremendous pressure reporters and the broader editorial value chain have to bear from time to time.

While the working class look forward to a holiday here and there, you are not going to believe me when I say we in the media hate these short weeks.

Why, you may ask.

The answer is that this particular edition was produced under what old journalists used to call the cooker pressure.

When 27 April — ironically Freedom Day for all of us — “steals” away a day from our operations, it means we are effectively one day short to meet our very pressing deadlines.

This past week — and indeed next week — we have to do with minus one full crucial day.

Imagine this, by last Friday 20 April, the editorial team had already started putting measures in place as to how to get around the burning issue of the missed full working day.

Lizzy Bapela was hard at work over last weekend, dropping stories into my inbox.

Mzamane Ringane, who is usually good at this kind of thing, had not dropped a single story and my nerves were jumpy.

We agreed with TK Mashaba last Sunday22 April that I pick him up the next Monday morning, an hour before the official working hours, so as to try and be ahead in terms of news gathering.

By we were in somewhat of a comfort zone, churning out stories to compile the full newspaper by end of business.

That gave us space for a brief pre-publication conference to check out which reporter had what story or even idea.

I must say colleagues such as Andries van der Hyde and Ronél van Jaarsveld, from sister newspaper Die Pos/The Post, were supportive in terms of news copy and story ideas.

Oops! In last week’s edition we were caught up in a tangle once again when we ran a crime story written by Lizzy titled “Double tragedy for Polokwane family”.

The headline should have read Mokopane and not Polokwane.

Who takes the blame and full accountability for this embarrassing error? The answer is the editor himself who should be alert to such gremlins.

All in all we had a balanced newspaper in terms of geographical spread, running with stories from not only Mokopane, but also Vaalwater, Lephalale and stunning pictures from the flash floods in Modimolle.

 The front page picture and the headline, “Mopping up”, in our opinion captured the suffering of ordinary people, in the aftermath of the cloudburst and subsequent flash floods in a town hit by drought in recent weeks.

Something incredible is that younger sportsmen from this neck of the woods have made the region proud at the highest possible level.

Join us as we doff our hats to youngsters such as Karabo Mogoshi, who is part of the national handball team currently playing at a tournament in Zambia.

15 months ago       25 April 2018