Meet a young journalist making her mark with a blog in Mamelodi East

FORTUNATE MACHABA is taking her own destiny into her hands through her news blog while also working as a public relations practitioner. She spoke to Precious Mphahlele about her passion for journalism.

I was born in Mamelodi East and was raised by my grandmother. I lost my mother at the age of 10 and my father at seven, so you could imagine that there was a lot happening in my life that was challenging from a young age. I had to focus on school while still dealing with challenges at home. Juggling studies and a hectic home life was stressful, but I believe that all the challenges had an impact on my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t go through all I went through.

I started writing in my diary when I was in primary school. Since I had lost both my parents, I constantly felt alone. I didn’t have that many friends so my diary became my friend; it was what I spoke to everyday. Keeping a diary made me realise that I have a passion for writing and that’s where it all started for me. Realising my passion for journalism culminated in me starting my blog in my first year of college which was in 2014. Now, instead of writing in my diary where no one reads what I write I prefer to post on my blog for my whole community to read.

My inspiration to become a journalist came from myself – even though I constantly watched the news when I was young, I didn’t know that the people reporting on the news were referred to as journalists. When I was exposed to what journalism is I realised that, through my writing, I have been doing this for a while and this is what I should be doing. Volunteering at News 101 – South Africa’s largest content network of local, continental and international news – made me realise that I do things differently from other media organisations. So my blog allows me to express my opinions, tell stories and news in my own way.

My blog is for my community and focuses on what is happening in Mamelodi East. I cover serious stories like car accidents, CSI projects and student protests, so my primary target audience is people living in Mamelodi East. My secondary target audience is young people who are not interested in news and aren’t exposed to journalism as a field. I feel I can help expose this field to the youth by posting my stories on Facebook, where my followers are, and by doing this even if they don’t click on the link I ensure that they at least read the headline. My blog has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years; the readership has grown and continues to grow every day with 400+ followers.

Apart from journalism I also do public relations (PR) for a music company in Mamelodi called A&P Production where I represent a young rapper called Mizz Brother. The reason I work with the company is not to get paid but to help them reach their heights. I volunteered to work there and at News 101 to help them and to gain experience with the different ways that different organisations write.

Between my blog, PR work and being a third-year media student specialising in journalism at Boston Business College and Media House, I have a lot on my plate. I am constantly looking for a balance between the two but still, that’s not all for me. I have plans to start my own magazine for my community in December to cover not only hard news but also entertainment, music and fashion events that happen in Mamelodi.

For me, it’s all about working hard and doing what you love. If you love what you do then it won’t feel like hard work. Passion is key for me, especially in journalism, where you have to have passion and have good writing skills in order to succeed.