DUT Alumni Dominates Regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards

DUT Alumni Dominates Regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards


The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Journalism alumni dominated the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held in Durban recently.

The DUT Journalism alumni scooped five out of 12 categories. Matthew Savides from Tiso Blackstar clinched the opinion category, which is new to the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. The judges chose Savides because he exemplified the best in opinion writing, reflecting on his formative years and watching soccer for the first time and linking this to the violence at Moses Mabhida Stadium involving Kaizer Chiefs fans.

ENCA’s Dasen Thathiah received two accolades, under the live reporting / breaking news and lifestyle / feature reporting categories. He was acknowledged alongside his cameraman Nkanyiso Mdlalose who is also a DUT alumnus from the Video Technology department.

TimesLive trio of Jeff Wicks, Suthentira Govender and Lwandile Bhengu scooped the multi-platform category. They produced a variety of media dealing with the devastating floods in Durban in October 2017. Compelling video and sound were part of the package which included detailed print stories, photographs as well as a series of tweets. They told the story of heroes and ordinary people who showed compassion to others.

Wicks expressed gratitude for the honour that was bestowed on them. “It is always heartening when your work is recognised. In this case we were burdened with telling stories of suffering and tragedy – and doing so with care. It was important that we gave the subjects of our stories a voice and I feel privileged to have played that role,” said Wicks.

He added that the media landscape has changed drastically, and it requires you to be innovative in reporting the news. “The way we bring people the news has changed and the days of a traditional newsroom are drawing to a close. What helped in our coverage of this story was spending days in the field, from the time the story broke until it was concluded. This could never have been achieved from an armchair,” he said.

Bhengu said this recognition means a lot to her as a young journalist, and she believes that the magnitude and impact of the story gave them the edge to win the award. “I think for me it was two things gave use the edge, firstly, the magnitude and impact the Durban storm had on some many lives and how we were able to convey and give the public a human face to the devastation of the storm. We told the story of a mother who had lost her child, from the beginning of her traumatic journey till the end, we were able to do this using various platforms.  Secondly for the piece I had the privilege of working with two senior journalists, Jeff Wicks and Suthentira Govender, and working as a collective gave us that edge,” she said.

The Witness journalist, Sabelo Nsele also walked away with the much contested politics category. He dealt with shenanigans around the ANC’s membership ahead of the National Conference at Nasrec in December 2017. It was a divisive time for the organisation. And KwaZulu-Natal was an important piece in the jigsaw that was to determine the person to replace former President Jacob Zuma. In Richmond in the Midlands, Speaker of the local municipality, hit on a bright idea to sway things his way. Hundreds of fake members were created using a fake FNB stamped deposit slip – needed to show one had paid their dues. Nsele investigated the scandal, leading to FNB announcing that the stamp used was fake, and the Speaker being disciplined.

DUT’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Executive Dean, Dr Rene Smith congratulated our alumni for their remarkable achievement. “We are so proud of the achievements of our alumni. Gratitude to all those who have played a role in providing a strong foundation, and to the award winners whose stories reflect their hard work and commitment,” she said.

Pictured: Judges, sponsors and winners at the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.

(Photo sourced from: Vodacom Journalist of the Year website)

Nduduzo Ndlovu

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