Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet multi-award winning South African community radio presenter Saziso Dlamini. He works for Radio Khwezi and is this year’s South African Depression and Anxiety Group Cipla Mental Health Journalism Awards winner in the broadcast category winner.
Q. How did you become a journalist?
A. I initially wanted to be a health worker but in Grade 10, I gained an interest in radio and decided to become a radio presenter.
After high school, I studied media studies. At the time I experienced financial constraints so I got a job at the department of education to help me study. I eventually joined Radio Khwezi after a long struggle trying to get onto radio. I worked behind the scenes and worked my way up until I became a presenter at the station in 2012.
Q. What does winning the 2020 South African Depression and Anxiety Group Cipla Mental Health Journalism Awards winner in the broadcast category mean to you?
A. It means a lot to me. It’s the third award I’ve won in 2020. Winning the award makes me very happy and of all the awards I have won, this one means the most to me. When we look at social ills, mental health is very important. People in society need to learn how to cope with the issues they face. I started working on my story in 2017 and I’ve never looked back. It’s a weekly feature that covers important issues, especially for black people who don’t prioritise issues of mental health. Winning was a bonus but serving my community with vital information is what keeps me going.
Q. What stories should African journalists be telling more?
A. It’s important that we look at issues of agriculture because it is like gold to us who live in Africa. We need to give our audience information that improves their knowledge of agriculture and how important it is.
Another thing is reporting on wealth. I think this is important as we see how wealthy countries have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. People have lost jobs. As African journalists, we need to help our audiences find ways of realising self-sufficiency. In this uncertain time, it is important that Africans find ways of standing on their own.
Q. What makes an exceptional journalist?
A. First and foremost as a journalist, be a person who understands their uniqueness. There is no one like you. It’s good to admire other people but don’t copy them. Be innovative and come up with new things. Be willing to learn. As it is, I have immersed myself in training to improve my reporting and producing. There is a saying that goes, “Readers are leaders”. It doesn’t have to be formal training. Don’t limit yourself and always find opportunities to improve yourself.
Q. Why, despite all the challenges in the profession, do you stay in journalism?
A. We know there are a lot of challenges that people in the media face. One of them is money. Fortunately, I entered this profession as a calling where I need to transform people’s lives. So that drives me every day. After I wrap every programme, I find it important to have self-evaluation on how I presented the show and how I can improve for the next one. Don’t get too comfortable with your work. Even when you have a certain beat to follow, treat each project as new.
As I have mentioned, money is an issue, so open up your mind to find other streams of income. I have opened my company Saziso Infortainment and Projects. Don’t live paycheck to paycheck. Above all, as media workers, we have the power to change lives. When you realise that strength, you will be able to face challenges in the industry that come your way.