This year I will be serving the Grahamstown community as a radio journalist. Located in the middle of diverse ecological regions, this beautiful, quaint town is home to many different cultures, languages, ethnic groups and belief systems which represent the community and give Grahamstown a unique personality. Along with its character and charm, its rich history gives the community much to be proud of. But with such variety, great discrepancies between the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed, and the educated and the uneducated are also growing. While Grahamstown boasts some of the best educational institutions in South Africa, illiteracy and poor education are some of the problems which face community members in Joza Township. It is in this environment that I will be challenged to cater for the different needs of the town in order to inform, update and even entertain its members.
Having recently considered Theodore Glasser’s (1992) theory around objectivity, I would have to agree that objectivity is a construct that is impossible to reach. Instead, I am confident stating that I am not objective in my approach to journalism. By acknowledging this, I am taking responsibility for what I say and the way I say it, fully accepting the repercussions of my actions as a journalist instead of hiding behind a façade of ‘objectivity’. In doing so, I will strive to be fair, to represent every side of a story and to be accurate in my portrayal of news. I will try to represent the minority groups who do not usually get the chance to have their say.
I believe that the opinions of a journalist have a specific place within the realm of journalism, however, when reporting news and current affairs, I will be professional in my conduct and remove my opinions from the report. In this way, my role as a radio journalist will be to tell the news even if it doesn’t shine a positive light on authority, to give the minority a voice and to report the views of others instead of my own.
Furthermore, I think it is important to focus on municipal issues to make society more aware and informed about issues which directly affect them. I also believe the media and I myself should act as a unifying force for the community. Thus, I would like to report stories which educate and encourage community members to understand each other better and, in doing so, bridge the gap between the different community members in Grahamstown. Henry Luce could not have said it better- “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world”.