Journalism graduate goes full circle

5 March 2019

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear — George Addair

We all grow up dreaming to become something in life. Being a journalist was the DREAM for Sthembiso Sithole. 

Sthembiso Sithole, TUT graduate who lives his passion for writing and storytelling.

The vibrant TUT Alumnus was recently appointed as a part-time lecturer at the University’s Journalism Department. He said; “I am thrilled to be a part-time lecturer. I think this is a great opportunity for me to be back and share my knowledge and experience as a media professional.”  

Over the years, Sithole has proven that passion, hard work and perseverance are great ingredients to achieve success. 

His journalism journey started in 2011 when he enrolled at TUT’s Journalism Department in Soshanguve. 

He did 12 subjects in his first year while working as a reporter and producer of the current affairs show, Live@6 at the campus radio station, TUT FM. 

His love of telling untold community stories also got him writing for a student blog called JournTau and the community newspaper, Rekord Noweto. Sithole used to walk in the dusty streets of Soshanguve, Hammanskraal and Mabopane for hours looking for stories. 

This was a clear sign that he was set for a great career in media industry. 

In 2012, during his second year at TUT, Sithole wrote a series of feature articles for The Star Newspaper, a daily newspaper under the Independent Media group. Getting his name out in the media industry before completing his studies is what set him apart from the rest of his peers that he went to the university with.

“While at TUT, I always told myself that iqualification, izongithola phambili (I always told myself that I will work hard even before getting a qualification). That became my motto and kept me going,” Sithole said passionately.

After getting an opportunity to work for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s Digital News Department, first as an intern and later becoming a Digital News Producer, Sithole never looked back.

During his time at the SABC, he worked closely with the SABC TV and radio affairs programmes. His role was to integrate TV, radio and online communication. At that time, many did not understand what digital media was and its role on how TV and radio news were created, compiled and broadcast. 

Sithole, with the help of his former boss, Izak Minnaar, learnt a lot and always availed himself to use opportunities to improve his knowledge and skills in the world of digital media. 

“I have always enjoyed working in the digital space. At that time, there were only a few Digital News Producers and many people didn’t know or understand what we were doing. Digital media created a platform for the people to read and listen to the news on their mobile phones. It is only now that they start to see and understand what I have been doing in digital media and journalism over the years”, he explains.

“I still remember how some of my colleagues would ask me: “Sithole do you call what you are doing work? We thought you studied journalism. I often had to explain over and over that digital is the future of journalism when it comes to telling stories. I also explain that digital media wouldn’t kill journalism, but rather enhance the profession,” he said. 

After leaving the SABC, Sithole joined the Mail & Guardian (M&G), the well-known investigative newspaper in Rosebank. He was the second Social Media Editor in the company and one of the few in South Africa back then.

While studying towards a BA Honours at the University of the Witwatersrand, his research looked into whether newsrooms had digital strategies when it comes to digital first, or print best. Sithole, who is passionate about academia, completed a Masters’ degree at the North West University.

He rejoined The Star Newspaper, where he helped to start a Tech Friday page for the publication, writing tech stories and reviewing gadgets. During his time as a Content Producer at The Star, Sithole assisted the newsroom and the reporters to integrate social media, online and print when covering stories. He is known for breaking some of the most newsworthy stories in the country. These include the resignation of the former statesman Hon. Jacob Zuma, as well as the notorious fire that broke out at the Departments of Health and Human Settlements building in Johannesburg recently.

He laments that working in different newsrooms over the years opened his eyes about the news making processes. “Some newsrooms are robust when reporters pitch stories and then there are some newsrooms where reporters are just assigned stories,” added Sithole. 

“I miss those Mail & Guardian days when I used to sit of Angela Quintal, Moshoeshoe Monare, Chris Roper, Mmanaledi Mataboge and Amabugane. Then, news conferences and diary meetings would take time, with editors and reporters asking critical questions about the stories that were pitched and how they would turn out,” Sithole said. 

The TUT Alumnus recently joined Brand Communications and Marketing Agency, DNA Brand Architects, as their Senior Content Manager.

When asked about joining the agency, Sithole said, “DNA is the only black owned agency in the country and I am proud to be part of #AllStars. Mr Sylvester Chauke, the founder and CEO of Brand Architects, is a man with a vision and 20 years of experience in the PR industry. I am on the right planet with amazing stars who are all movers and shakers. All I can say is… Watch this space!” 

Catch him on Twitter @SthembisoMedia

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