23rd Apr2012

Cracking the odds, challenging the everyday

by admin

Themba Mnguni, currently a MA student in Media Studies (and one of the founding members of exPress imPress!), recounts his journey from Wits Media Studies to SABC Education.

This piece is a reflection on the journey that I have made; from being a student, graduate, postgraduate and now a ‘professional’ in the media. My first encounter with the horrible subject called Media Studies had not been so exciting and such a smooth riding as anyone would expect. I thought Media Studies was going to be a great, exciting and fantastic course that anyone wanting to be big in social circles could enroll for without hesitations. I thought it would offer the best alternative to the so-called Engineering Sciences which take forever to finish – that is for those who are lucky enough to survive exclusion and the ordeals of oracle. Oh well, who was I fooling, the Social Sciences proved a whole lot tougher and demanding than the Engineering Sciences!

However, on the positive side, the Social Sciences grant you tools for mastering the science of thinking and the art of strategy and communication. One could not have learned these better anywhere else than in Media Studies. Along with thousands of other students out there, I also was confused about where a degree/qualification in Media Studies would get me, and I thought it could possibly make me part of the stats of thousands of jobless graduates in weakling economies post-the-global-financial-downturn, as has been the case in Europe and other parts of the world. These were general stereotypes that sent a cold shiver down my spine. However, like a good warrior, I soldiered on and ignored all the “noise” from the sides.  Keeping a straight head got me through my first degree, second one and now-about-to-‘complete’-third-degree in Media Studies.

What I am trying to achieve with this article is to flag away the stereotypes that we – students of Media Studies and the Humanities – normally come across on an everyday basis from our very own counterparts in Engineering, Business and Health Sciences. I believe that the Social Sciences are still crucial in this modern day, age and time, and relevant to today’s market economy, with Media Studies being a leading field. The market is always likely to be rewarding and welcoming if one goes the extra mile in studying further. In that way, one builds solid research capacity and project management skills which are essential skills that one needs to have in today’s market-driven economy.

I recently joined SABC Education, a division that we are all familiar with. Those students who have gone past the first year in Media Studies will definitely remember the stack of readings on the SABC and its mandate as a public broadcaster. Articles from the course reading pack preached intensely that post-1994, SABC gained a new role as a public broadcaster, providing the public with education, information and entertainment. The division that I am currently with is responsible for enforcing the first two arms of the mandate (education and information) on three national television channels and twelve public radio stations, and more recently also via social media platforms which are used by all the SABC channels (both television and radio).

SABC Education is divided into three units, namely Formal Education; Public Information and Social Development; and Outreach. I am based in the Public Information and Social Development unit which is an awesome, vibrant and equitable unit. We basically work with all channels in supplying educational content. The following programmes – amongst others – are our babies: Talk SA, Shift, Intersexions, Making Moves, Matric Uploaded, Living Land and others. In a nutshell, my division is a crucial player in spearheading the educational mandate of the SABC. It is a great environment to work in; a place where Media Studies is in action and at its best. All aspect of Media Studies can be deployed in the workplace, ranging from critical discourse analysis, content analysis, critical political economy, cultural studies, genre studies, ideology, framing – the list is endless!

But it is also a very hectic environment to work in. Without further studying, it would have been extremely difficult to crack the whip. Getting this internship with the SABC has certainly not been a walk in the park. 3,775 well-deserving and qualifying graduates responded to the ad for this post but SABC could only accommodate 95 graduates. Mathematically, that’s a rough 2% of the overall number of applications received. So far, I am definitely happy with the robust working experience that the unit is imparting me with. I am really at home and looking forward to remain with the division. There is no other working environment as good as SABC Education!

To read more of Themba’s articles, please click here.

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