With a communications degree in her pocket, journalist Noluthando Ngcakani at first longed for the glitz and glamour of fashion magazines. Instead, she ended up covering grime and guts… No regrets, though, because her work changes lives.
Why did you choose this profession?
This profession chose me, if I am being honest. You know how farmers always say they were called to farm? I was called to journalism. Sounds a bit on the pretentious side, but I was 18, and had this wild dream of having a by-line in Vogue or Cosmopolitan.
Well, I studied communication sciences and completed my degree. For about a month I was stuck and shocked. Well, more perplexed that Cosmo wasn’t knocking on my door like I thought they would. I went back to the drawing board, started applying for any communications posts I could find, and a woman who was doing recruitment at the office of the Northern Cape’s premier, was actually working closely with another HR officer who was looking for interns at SABC News in Kimberley. By January 2017, I started my internship and grew to love news. I live, sleep, eat and breathe news and I would not have it any other way.
What training did you undergo?
I obtained my degree in communication sciences, specialising in media and journalism from the University of the Free State in 2016. In 2017, I was one of the interns in the MICT Seta and an SABC programme. It’s a year-long programme that developed me into a broadcast journalist. I then worked as a senior journalist for a local newspaper for two years.
What kind of personality suits journalism?
If I had to sum it up in one word: bold. It takes guts and heart to do this journalism thing. You need to have courage to thrive in this industry. Many times you will find yourself riddled with self-doubt and doubt from some naysers like senior journalists, but you need to be able to brush it off and keep it moving.
What do you enjoy most?
Journalism is a living piece of living, and breathing recorded history, when you think about it. I enjoy telling stories and knowing that I am documenting history as it happens.
What don’t you like?
The hours. When you are in this field you basically don’t have a life. Breaking news happens at any moment.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Becoming Liewe Lulu (Food For Mzansi’s agony aunt column writer) and living out my dreams of being a foodie journalist. I think exploring all these various facets in the field have been quite the experience for me.
Any advice for high school learners who want to become journos?
Never forget the 5 W’s and the H. Who, what, where, when, and why? And of course, how. This industry is basically experience-based. Start now and start early. Get involved in the school magazine, or a local newspaper because that kind of experience counts. It grooms you for the future.
Eventually I would love to write my own cookbook!
Your job in three words…
Fast-paced, accountability and creative expression. Ok, that’s four words.