No way I could shut off my alarm and sleep a few more minutes. I had to be on time. “Finnish time” to be precise!
I arrived at YLE – Finland’s multi-platform public broadcaster excited to see its media system. As an employee of the same type of organisation in South Africa, I was keen to compare the manner in which the Finns make news to the way we do.
During the morning’s editorial meetings it was evident that I was about to bare witness to the daily running of a well oiled machine. The effortless link between the radio, tv and online departments showed that news within the organisation was seen as a cooperative venture.
Post the formalities and polite smiles I went out on my first Finnish story! A soccer match to highlight the plight of refugees in Finland using the sport as a unifying agent. The language barriers, trickling in of refugees and soccer fans and the poor weather were no match for the task at hand. For the first time during my stay in Finland I saw a diverse crowd and I heard the voices of those less fortunate.
After the usual delicious Finnish cafeteria lunch I was shown a short documentary on an informal settlement in Johannesburg. This informal settlement in my city was depicted as the standard South African suburb. After a lengthy chat with the journalist who covered the piece and her editor in chief on what I thought was a stereotypical portrayal of the subject at hand, I understood the necessity of having foreign correspondents and the important role they play in the dissemination of reliable and accurate information.
FCP was supposed to be a training ground for young journalists. During these three weeks I have gotten more than just a training ground. I have gained perspective on pertinent issues in my own country and through observation of the Finnish models will be able to engage critically on some of these problems in order to offer solutions. I have a deeper hunger to tell stories about my continent in order to do away with misconceptions.
My South African public broadcaster still has a long way to go, we may not yet have a romance between tv, radio and online media and our news makers may not be as “multi-skilled” as those whom I had the pleasure of meeting but knowing that I am part of a developing country means that change is bound to happen.
Exciting times lie ahead! I can’t wait to get home and SHARE!