Truth? What truth?

Picture yourself, fresh out of an institution, and ready to do that television journalism thing (whatever that is) in a climate that is abuzz with many social and political stories just waiting for a voice…You take up the ‘gung ho’ journalism persona that Hollywood has so very well clouded your mind with, and off you go into the big bad world with an idea of the kind of news you want to produce. The kind of truth we want the citizens of the world to know about. The grounded and objective point of view that you feel is still a slight bit blinded.

Now, wake up. Because assuming that the television journalism thing is as simple as getting an objective source or creating an objective point of view to make your story is much like thinking the air guitar is a real instrument (no hate, I’ve had my share of amazing rips. But seriously).

Like all things, this idea of objectivity is something that one must really wrap their heads around before attempting to be the mediator to the masses. Now, one thing I found interesting when grappling with this objectivity thing was that although it is most journo’s primal virtuoso, it really doesn’t exist (shocker). This ‘objectivity’ thing is really only a reflection of a particular person’s position in that particular space, and at that particular time. Being objective (like that nice mutual friend) is simply dependent on a particular ideology and discourse which, as most things (the mutual friend turned out to be a creep, stalker or Justin Bieber fan), can change over time.

“Every age has a feeling of rightness.”- This is probably one of the best ways to explain what I’m trying to get at with this notion that an idea of truth, veritas, or objectivity, is simply an inference we make in order to mediate our experiences.

My past experience for example, was one that yet again opened my semi-glazed eyes into the requirements of good reporting. As we are the newsmakers, it is important to ensure that the angle we are reporting from, serves the interests of those concerned. Much like I explained beforehand with municipal reporting, it’s important to seek the correct sources depending on what you are reporting on. Often, the big voices are the first to be quoted in a story dealing with policies, but, the little, or rather unheard  voices are the ones that can really give you an in depth account as to what is happening in and around the places they live.

Going out in the field was both exciting and exhausting as the heat took no prisoners. My partner and I went into KwaNdancama with the idea that filming would be a much simpler process than it turned out to be. From finding exactly where the area was that had the problem we wanted to highlight in our story, to the ever-pressing language barrier – we had our work cut out for us. We did our research beforehand, or so we thought, but all the while the blazing sun reminded me that as a journalist, you really can never be too prepared and that anything (including your story) can change at any moment. We were lucky that we found sources that are both a) representative of the community and, b) willing to speak to two semi-dehydrated amateur journo’s carrying around two big bags of equipment and looking a little lost (to say the least).

The individuals we interviewed gave us more than mere research on policies could. They gave us first hand experience of the kind of objectivity we should be putting out into the news and media realm. They gave us their veritas. From this, we were able to start pieceing together a story we hope will highlight some of the issues they are faced with living in this community. A high point was that it was nice to see the municipality keeping to their word on a project they had initiated to eradicate the bucket toilet system used in some townships in and around Grahamstown. A low point, was the time it took for this to become a reality. But at the same time, this gave us a new angle to focus our story on.

Speaking of angles, this trip into the field taught me a thing or two about shooting:

Number one – It helps to have an idea of what your story is in order to capture sequence shots to go with said story.

Number two – Tripods will not always fit where you want them to.

Number three – Take lots of shots. No, like lots of them. A WHOLE lot.

Number four – Keep the camera still when taking said shots else it would all have been in vain.

Number five – Its okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn along the way and do better next time.

Now, with in mind, I think our second trip to the field will see us more prepared, and with a better idea of how to focus on a story that will bring an individuals truth and objectivity to the helm. In this, I hope what we gather can be used to portray some sort of truth about the society we live in, and that this truth is one that if need be, can be changed for the better.


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