Moneyweb’s managing editor Ryk van Niekerk recently wrote a piece that lumped all media studies and journalism students together, graduate and post-graduate, and insulted them all. Here is the response I sent him today.
Your article on graduates who cannot name the Minister of Finance (4 July) is wrong and misleading in a way that is damaging to Wits Journalism and our students. You say that the students you interviewed were BA graduates in journalism and media studies from various universities, including Wits. But Wits does not have a BA in journalism, only Hons and MA degrees – so none of these could have been Wits journalism graduates.
You fail to distinguish between journalism students and media studies students, or between graduate and post-graduate training. It was wrong of you to expect media studies graduates to be trained in journalism.
You are correct that many students do not read enough and some have poor general knowledge. At Wits Journalism, we deal with this by carefully select about 20 students a year through a battery of tests, including a general knowledge test, and interviews. Students who do not consume news media are unlikely to get in, and certainly will not get high marks. They do an intensive post-graduate year of practical and intellectual training to make them newsroom-ready. I think you can attest to the fact that the two graduates you have recruited from among our students – Malcolm Rees and Felicity Duncan – are both excellent journalists who continue to do sterling work for Moneyweb.
One of the things we teach them is that when they make an error, they should correct and apologise as quickly, unequivocally and prominently as possible. I am sure you will endorse this view, and do same.
I look forward to his response.