08 July 2014

The Go-Getting Journalist

I know for a fact that I am BLESSED to do one of the things I love the most in the world and get paid for it! Writing. I live for writing. I’m one of those people that prefer to write down my thoughts and feelings. Only then do I really know what’s going on in my head.

I’m Carryn-Ann Nel, a senior(ish) reporter at Beeld in Johannesburg. It is the biggest Afrikaans newspaper in the country and I recently joined this publication, after working for Die Burger and Rapport in Cape Town for about 8 years. A day in the life of a journalist… is unpredictable and crazy and normally includes a LOT of coffee. It also includes listening to strangers’ stories.

Because I’m a general reporter (that means I cover everything: from a horrible murder case to writing about Julius Malema to reporting on a fire to writing about my experience playing cricket with professional players) no day is ever the same. I literally CAN’T plan my day. Every day has its own challenges and its own stories and its own people. The cool part is also of course that there’s food at events (hahaha) and the fact that I never ever, ever have to wear heels. I judge journalists who wear heels.



The best part of my job is being exposed to people's inner lives, homes, events. As a journalist, you're there to represent the public and as much as it is an honour, it is also a huge responsibility that I don't take for granted. You are there to be the eye witness and tell the world what you saw on a factual and objective basis. You are also there to act as a mouth piece to the voiceless, those people who society sometimes forget about. You are also there to expose corruption.

It is a stressful job. You have constant deadlines (we don't only file for the newspaper anymore, but also for our website and we have to tweet all the time as well), you have to check your facts a million times before going to print and you have to always get all the sides to a story.

The concept of "9 - 5" also doesn't exist for a journalist as news never stops and you can literally be called out to cover a story at any given time. (For example, the night Madiba died, I was at a party with my friends when someone told me to check my phone about his passing. I immediately rushed to the office.) The other down side of the job is just that: You can’t always make plans in advance. Sometimes I am late for personal events and sometimes I am too early (Ok, I’m lying).

The most rewarding part of the job is that you are informing and educating the public. You are responsible for helping them form opinions. I see my job as my mission to inform them with as much information and views as possible for the public to make up their own mind. And sometimes you get to do a story that changes people's lives forever. Be it helping a little girl who lost her one leg after an accident, find help, or expose the truth. The added bonus to me is the actual writing of the articles - it's a great way for me to "let go".

If you want to be a journalist, I'd suggest you sharpen your general knowledge, read more, write more (even if it's your own thoughts in a diary), and not to be "shy". You will also always be criticised for stories (trust me, this happens all the time) and some people will probably refuse to speak to you. For this you have to be a bit of a "tough cookie" - as long as you never forget the purpose of your job: To tell the truth.

These are the websites I love reading:

1. Daily Maverick -This is the first I read in the morning.

2. Twitter - I have gotten so many news tips from Twitter and broken stories, oh and Twitter too.

3. Daily Mail - Just sometimes purely for the relaxation.

4. Sapa - It's not a news website, more of an advisory website for journalists about the day's news.

5. News 24 - (sometimes, not all the time)

6. EWN - To stay updated.

7. Facebook - Duh! I have to see whose birthday it is. :)

This sounds weird, but boyband music gets me going through the day (mostly cos it's sing a long tunes). And The Beatles. Always the Beatles. Oh and my favourite snack? Errrrythang and coffee! 

Follow beautiful Carryn-Ann on Twitter @carrynann to keep up with all of her amazing adventures. ;) 

Image - Carryn-Ann's 

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