In July 2010 we were introduced to a new Journalism and Media Studies 3 course which would run for the last semester of our undergraduate year, JDD-CMP. We were required to create a platform for the voices of Makana residents to be heard utilising what we had learnt about development journalism and the grass-roots approach to reporting and media production. Participating in the Critical Media Production section of the Journalism, Democracy and Development course over the last semester has encouraged me to go over and beyond what I think is a 'big deal'. While we all voice our own opinions during discussions and debates, whether we rate or slate Rod Amner's course as a whole, one thing my group could agree on was the fact that empowering the people of Joza was to be the most beneficial option regarding our vision and mission.
My partner and I created a Soundslide (a merging of photographic evidence and audio interviews) regarding the health issues in Ward 5, one of the issues that residents had brought up at our first community meeting held in August. This media output was developed in two stages which gave me the chance to expand on the audio and conduct an interview with Thandy Matebese, the Media and Communications Officer for Makana Municipality, who agreed with our sentiments, saying that "it’s not [always] the government’s responsibility". Once our group had completed their videos, documentaries, wall newspapers and Soundslides, we returned to the Extension 9 community hall where we had held our first community meeting. We held an exhibition to showcase our work and while the turnout was much smaller than our previous meeting, the audience was still large. There were a few familiar faces from around the Wards but some people did start leaving before all our productions had been viewed. This seemed to sum up just how little faith the youth (who made up the majority of our audience) had in a project like this.
While I may have had high hopes for the change we could bring to people’s lives, it seems that our positions as student journalists definitely hindered the effect our work had on the Ward 5 and 6 communities. Our government has many issues at hand and there are processes which need to be followed to ensure that our country runs smoothly however, the lack of co-operation between those in positions of political power and journalists is affecting the well-being of those living on and below the poverty line. I can only hope that our work within these Wards will spark a sense of empowerment amongst the people and encourage them to help themselves.