By ROD AMNER and NYX MCLEAN
This edition of GMDirect is our last one for the year. It is incredible how quickly the time has passed since our first late night in early August putting together articles to be sent out on a Friday morning.
Grocott’s Mail shifted slightly when we stepped in. While we continued to be a source of news for the community, and we have enjoyed covering news in Makhanda like the local government elections and illegal dumping, we also became a teaching newspaper.
We have spent the last few months mentoring students in their journeys as journalists. We have been lucky to bear witness to their growth, to watch them gain confidence in their reporting, and to see how they have responded to the support and challenges from our readers online.
This has been key to us engaging with the Makhanda community online, responding to comments and queries, following leads, and finding answers for you.
It has been an incredible lesson in reaching out and building relationships. It has also been a lesson in trusting that the people of Makhanda want to be in conversation with each other about critical issues such as sexual violence in schools, which we covered recently.
We believe that Grocott’s journalists should assist in any way plausible the work of citizens in a democracy.
We hope that by building relationships with citizens and among citizens, our journalists begin to
practice relational journalism — and in the process, help develop more civic capacity in the communities we cover.
By turning away from “extractive” or “transactional” journalism, in which the journalist’s relationship with citizens lasts only as long as it takes to get the story (or maybe just a good quote), journalists have a chance at
recovering that elusive quality known as trust.
We want to do more of this next year; we want to keep creating space for public conversations to come together as a community and engage with the issues that matter to us and impact our lives. To do this requires a partnership with you, our readers, to know that there is space here at Grocott’s Mail for you too.
You can participate in these conversations by responding to calls for participation, or you can lead your own, and we can support you through coverage or promotion on our platforms, or you can comment on our articles, or if you prefer a quieter, less public conversation, you can email us.
One conversation continues, and it has challenged us over the last few months – that is COVID-19. Currently, this virus does not appear to want to leave us be, and so we all face another year with it. And so, from us, a reminder that regardless of our stances on vaccinations and other related matters, we owe it to each other to be safe, to respect personal boundaries, and to respect everyone’s right to life. Wear your masks, sanitise, keep a safe distance, and if you have not already been vaccinated, give it some thought for your safety and for those you care about.
We all miss the way life was before COVID, and the sooner we do our part, the sooner we can get back to a semblance of life before 2020.
We will be taking a break from producing the GMDirect editions, but we will still be posting articles to www.grocotts.co.za, Facebook and Instagram. If you would like to contact us about a story idea or provide feedback, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us on Facebook Messenger.
Have a good holiday, if you can have one, and stay safe.