ABN: A seed bed for future journalists

PUBLISHED: Fri, 22 Jun 2018 15:36:06 GMT

Forget about the World Cup African Business News – the company that owns CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa – scored a satisfying hat trick in journalism at a glittering gathering of the finest financial journalists on the continent.

For the third year in-a-row ABN won the best newcomer award at the Sanlam Awards in South Africa.

This feat is a tribute to the academy of journalism that ABN is becoming; that idea of bringing up talent, mentoring the fire of youth and passing on skills. This has turned our proud operation here in Stella Street, Sandton, into a seed bed for future journalists.

This was a modus operandi I pioneered, as editor, at the birth of Forbes Africa way back in 2011 and I continue to this day at CNBC Africa. It always gives me a swell of pride to hear some of those I trained, training others. At this company we believe not in giving the hungry a fish, but teaching them how to fish. There is a lot of nonsense talked about inspiring the youth, but success boils down to the simple inculcation of hard work and effort.

The young hopefuls themselves, play a full part in pouring their youth and idealism into the career in journalism that lies at their feet – if they can apply themselves.

One factor that unites our young talent is that they had to make a concerted leap off the bottom rung of the ladder.

This tale is told by the way into the newsroom at ABN made by our hat trick of winners.  Our first winner, in 2016, was Ancillar Mangena a determined young woman who will win many more awards yet. She cut her teeth on a free community newspaper in Johannesburg writing about pot holes and school sports days. One morning I opened her newspaper and saw her many by-lines and wondered what wonders she could do on a magazine like Forbes Africa. I telephoned her and the next morning she came in, with a thumbed copy of the magazine in hand, and put her case. There followed years of intense journalism.

In 2017, it was the turn of Aviwe Mtila to accept the best newcomer award. In the last three years he has come a long way in more ways than one. His route to the ABN newsroom was overnight, on a bus, from East London, merely for an interview for an internship. Later that day, he went back overnight home. Within a year, Aviwe had got the hang of TV reporting and was soon dodging bricks at university riots and covering the chaos at the South Africa-Zimbabwe border. Mentorship and opportunity are his best friend.

This year it was Melitta Ngolonkulu who picked up the award with a trio of well executed and written stories on Ponzi schemes, the death of retail and the coffee industry. Her sacrifice was door knocking in search of scarce jobs for young journalists. For a year, she rang me every month, or so, from Port Elizabeth as part of her long and soul destroying search for a job. I eventually came to appreciate her tenacity and gave her an internship.

Three young African journalists to watch in a great African newsroom.

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