As I write this Jay Caboz is hurtling through the rush hour traffic to a story that many may see as an imposition late on a Thursday. He is heading for Marikana – the scene of the terrible massacre in 2012 – it will take him hours to get there and back in the African night. As usual, I didn’t need to ask him to go, he was off as soon as the suggestion came up. I am sure he will file an enthralling, thorough and original story – whatever happens.
This snapshot in the life of a young journalist, says a lot about Jay and his approach to the craft that we love. He is hard working and has harnessed his weakness (or is it strength) of keeping every fine detail in its proper place into a modus operandi that I feel could take him to the highest echelons of journalism.
What a difference a gut feeling, two years ago, made to his life and the progress of Africa’s best read business magazine.
When I interviewed Jay in 2013 he had been turned down by two newspapers. It almost became three publications after the interview. I wasn’t sure. I was slightly puzzled by his quirky energy and a bit concerned about his lack of experience.
I saw in his eyes how worried he was that he wasn’t going to get the job. I saw it as sharp hunger and desire to get on – beyond mere ambition. My gut feeling was that this man could do the job at a time when Forbes Africa needed stories and pictures like a cold drink on a hot day.
How the whims and gut feelings of editors can pay off like a lucky lotto ticket. Jay took to the job with hammer and tongs; in his case, pen and camera. I think everyone underestimated his will to succeed; including him! He followed studiously my comprehensive edits of his stories and grew in confidence and stature by the day. Soon a golden stream of award winning images and arresting stories flowed from his computer here in Sandton. No task was too difficult, or too laborious.
I have been in this game for 34 years and pride myself on that I would never ask a journalist to do anything that I would not do myself. But even I used to occasionally wince at the pile of work Jay tackles and the distances he is prepared to travel in the name of journalism. Gad, he even flew into Angola to cover rats clearing minefields with a dislocated arm – the legacy of a hockey match. He shot the furry mine detectors one handed, with his other arm in a sling, and his story was the first to be picked up from us in Africa and run by Forbes in the United States.
In just two years: he has marched with striking platinum miners; covered the mourning for Mandela; sailed through a storm off the Cape; survived an elephant charge in Zambia; and found stories where others could not.
I swear, if I had assigned Jay to cover the Last Supper, I would ask him the next day to give me a rundown of the breaking of the bread.
“But, you’ll never guess what…” would be his reply.
In these often difficult times for journalism the naming of Jay Caboz as Standard Bank’s Young Journalist of the Year sheds light amid the gloom. The best bit is, he has only just got started. I wonder what story is coming back from Marikana?