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Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others.
Twitter, although not exactly lucrative for its creators, is a fantastic tool for journalists.
From sourcing stories to tweeting their final copies for all to read, Twitter has become an essential tool in the journalist’s tote bag. But the social network is actually changing the face of journalism and story-telling itself. How, I hear you ask?
Twitter has become an integral tool for South African journalists
Twitter is bringing journalists’ work closer to people, especially those without televisions or those who can’t bear to tune into awkward, half-hourly broadcasts on radio. And unlike TV or radio, people can interact with the storytellers, often re-forming the story entirely.
In honour of that, we take a look at just some of the journalists in South Africa that are furthering their profession by using social media in their daily lives, and more notably, the mouthpiece that is Twitter.
Editorial note: due to the nature of lists, we simply can’t include every journalist in this piece. But if you feel that someone should be included, do let us know in the comments section below, mail us at email@example.com, or tweet us @Memeburn.
Additionally, if you’d like to follow all mentioned journalists in one go, find a link to Memeburn’s curated SA Journalists Twitter list at the foot of the article.
Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan)
Kicking off the list is Karyn Maughan, a journalist known for being tough as nails even when facing the likes of Bathabile Dlamini in a press conference. But that isn’t all she’s known for.
Her specialty is crime and justice reporting, and was one of the tweeters responsible for turning the Oscar Pistorius trial into one of Twitter’s first big livetweeted news events in South Africa. We actually named her as one of the social network’s users you should follow during the trial.
The story doesn’t end there though.
She joined eNCA as a specialist reporter in the years proceeding, and has made her mark on the industry as one of the country’s premier legal reporters.
She’s currently covering the #ElvisRamosebudi case, and the notion of transformation in South Africa.
— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) April 4, 2017
Ashraf Hendricks (@AshrafRSA)
Ashraf Hendricks (nope, not the footballer), has a much smaller Twitter follower count than many on this list, but as we’ve mentioned before in our previous Instagram Digital All Stars piece, follower numbers don’t usually matter.
The Cape Town-born photojournalist has been published by a number of media houses including News24, but currently plies his trade with Ground Up.
— Ashraf Hendricks (@AshrafRSA) April 7, 2017
Barry Bateman (@barrybateman)
Bateman is another journalist well versed in the Oscar Pistorius saga, publishing a book about the topic (co-authored by Mandy Wiener) earlier this decade. During the trial, Memeburn also observed a notable jump in his Twitter follower numbers, swelling from just over 17 000, to the low 100 000s in a matter of days.
But follower numbers shouldn’t define his journalistic pedigree.
Although his livetweeting career has since slowed, Pretoria-based Bateman is now the senior reporter at Eyewitness News covering the political dynamo of South Africa, and news from within the capital.
He was also named as one of the country’s top media makers in 2015, fit with an infectious sense of humour.
According to records, Shelley Garland is from Kekana Gardens. Is that a suburb of Kekburg in Kekistan?
— Barry Bateman (@barrybateman) April 15, 2017
Richard Poplak (@poplak)
Another reporter that doesn’t often shirk a chance to livetweet events, Rich Poplak isn’t just a journalist with a social presence. His career spans both sides and hemispheres of the Atlantic, with a host of non-fiction to his name to boot. This includes works covering South Africa’s elections of 2014 (in his Hannibal Elector series), to his experiences growing up in South Africa during apartheid.
His most recent coverage saw him on the ground in Pretoria, covering the #NationalDayofAction protest led by the country’s opposition parties.
According to his personal site, his current project examines Africa as a “rising” continent under the microscope.
— IG: richpoplak (@Poplak) April 12, 2017
Mandy Wiener (@mandywiener)
Prolific author and now public speaker, “Super Mandy” Wiener also played a marked role during the Oscar trial alongside Bateman and contemporaries. Since then, her career has included a slew of book releases including non-fiction works on Brett Kebble, and Oscar Pistorius.
She previously worked with Eyewitness News for a decade. And that’s without mentioning her lengthy list of scoops.
#OscarPistorius Oscar is sobbing, his shoulders shaking as he heaves up and down as Nair goes through the events surrounding the murder.
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) February 22, 2013
Nickolaus Bauer (@NickolausBauer)
Nickolaus Bauer was recruited by eNCA in 2013, and has since become one of the country’s more well-known journalists on Twitter.
Never afraid to retweet a strangely silly or deeply profound post, Bauer also livetweeted the #CabinetReshuffle as it happened in the late hours of Thursday morning in March. Oh, and that Bathabile Dlamini press conference in the same month too.
Apart from 140 characters and his journalistic ambitions, Bauer also co-founded the upliftment centre Dlana Nje in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.
— Nickolaus Bauer (@NickolausBauer) March 6, 2017
Michael Appel (@TheMikeAppel)
With a long-spanning career reaching across most journalistic disciplines, Appel began using Twitter more frequently in recent years.
When Cyclone Dineo hit Mozambique and the northern reaches of South Africa earlier this year, Michael Appel was there.
Tweets from his personal account focus almost entirely on his day-to-day activities as a journalist, from spying Mmusi Maimane’s patriotic socks, to insightful live clips of current events.
— Michael Appel (@TheMikeAppel) April 20, 2017
Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee)
Haffajee, currently the editor-at-large at Huffington Post South Africa, has a storied history in the journalism industry.
She previously held the top editorial position at City Press, and was the former editor of the Mail & Guardian. She also isn’t afraid to stand her ground on Twitter, which leads to interesting social commentary regarding some of South Africa’s more pressing issues.
Haffajee was awarded the 2014 CPJ International Press Freedom Award for her work during the 2013 Secrecy Bill saga.
— Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee) April 6, 2017
Raeesa Pather (@raediology)
Raeesa Pather kicked off her career at arts and culture publication One Small Seed and then The Daily Vox. She’s now an integral part of the Mail & Guardian’s team in Johannesburg.
Most recently, Pather covered the #NationalDayOfAction protests live on Twitter, capturing live video and describing scenes in 140-character bites. But she’s no stranger to longform either.
In a recent series, Pather takes a deep dive into the lives of evicted Cape Town residents from “Salt River to Wolwerivier, and from Sea Point to Blikkiesdorp”.
— raeesa pather (@raediology) April 10, 2017
Annika Larsen (@annikalarsen1)
Many 2000s kids will remember Larsen from her stint at Carte Blanche — the Sunday programme that spelled the end of their weekends. She left in 2008 to take up her current role at eNCA.
She, like so many other journalists on this list, has also lit up the public’s eye with political coverage.
Speaking of which, Larsen regards Jacob Zuma’s rise “from accused to state president” as one of her more memorable stories.
There’s a strange feeling here of fever. A fever about to break. Slight madness. pic.twitter.com/8kkzZu4ahs
— Annika Larsen (@AnnikaLarsen1) March 31, 2017
Rebecca Davis (@becsplanb)
Davis is both a Rhodes University and Oxford alum, and rejoined The Daily Maverick team late 2016. She’s also been involved with 567 Cape Talk too, hosting the radio station’s daily drive show in the past.
Beyond radio though, Davis has also put pen to actual paper, publishing Best White and Other Anxious Delusions in 2015 which explores the notion of whiteness in South Africa.
She also has a knack for crafting excellent quotes.
“It is almost exactly like that Neill Blomkamp sci-fi flick Elysium, where the wealthy live in a space station and the poor scrabble for survival on blighted Earth,” Davis once answered, when asked what she thought about Cape Town.
Guys…Zuma is going noooowhere.
— Rebecca Davis (@becsplanb) April 5, 2017
Lester Kiewit (@lesterkk)
Cape Town-based reporter Lester Kiewit has been plying his trade for more than a decade. Known for his live parliamentary coverage, resultant political commentary and hyperlocal articles, his style is unabashed and whole-hearted.
You might’ve heard him on 567 Cape Talk in the late 2000s, but since 2008, Kiewit has been one of eNCA’s premier broadcast journalists.
The armed-chair struggle. pic.twitter.com/jn2OCOyedr
— Lester Kiewit (@lesterkk) April 12, 2017
Matshidiso Madia (@tshidi_lee)
Currently penning pieces at News24, Tshidi Madia’s works as early as 2009 can still be viewed over on EWN’s archives.
More recently though (at least since the dawn of Twitter), the self-proclaimed lover-of-things’s timeline consists predominantly of retweets, with insightful and often hilarious commentary.
She does indulge in the odd spell of livetweeting too, most recently covering the first #NationalDialogue presser by former SA presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and FW De Klerk.
She’s also a prolific user of Twitter, with just over 50 000 posts published to the social network.
— Matshidiso Madia (@tshidi_lee) May 5, 2017
S’thembile Cele (@SthembileCel)
City Press journalist S’thembile Cele isn’t simply well versed in Twitter. Instagram, Periscope, YouTube and SoundCloud have all played a role in her reporting repertoire at one point or another.
Beginning her journalism career at MFM 92.6 radio, her focus is primarily the dizzying mire of South African politics. She joined City Press at the beginning of 2015, where her current focus lead her to pen insightful pieces like this.
As for the microblogging service, Cele’s timeline is a mesh of insightful live reporting, snarky commentary and the occasional insightful-snarky meme.
Guys here is Cyril telling student’s to challenge state capture and to take on corruption in the state. Can he tell this to the top 6? pic.twitter.com/SjD3r8d84N
— S’thembile Cele (@SthembileCel) May 7, 2017
Samantha Reinders (@samreinders)
Samantha Reinders is another Twitter user who doesn’t boast the follower base of a Haffajee or Maughan, but her timeline is notable.
As a photojournalist covering daily life in Cape Town, Reinders’ has transformed her Twitter feed into an Instagram-like rolling photo essay — something that few journalists on this list have accomplished.
She’s also been published by a number of publications, including Time, NPR and The Sunday Times.
— Samantha Reinders (@samreinders) February 14, 2017
Adriaan Basson (@AdriaanBasson)
Formerly the assistant editor at City Press, editor of the Beeld, and current editor at News24, Basson was another journalist who covered the Pistorius trial from the stands. Beyond the trial though, Basson also co-founded the Mail & Guardian’s amaBhungane investigative journalism division in 2010.
Although his livetweeting has taken a dip in recent years, he still engages with his near 100 000 followers regularly.
Beeld confirms what I heard yesterday; that Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times through #Oscar Pistorius’ bathroom door. She was inside.
— Adriaan Basson (@AdriaanBasson) February 15, 2013
Thulasizwe Simelane (@ThulasSims)
You’ve likely seen Thulasizwe Simelane on television (interviewing the likes of President Jacob Zuma), and live reporting some of the country’s pressing news events of recent time, but he also has an active Twitter presence. Most recently covering the #DAMarch in Limpopo against state capture, Simelane has more than a decade’s wealth of reporting experience across the continent.
He previously occupied a newsdesk at SABC too, hosting a show on the broadcasting corporation’s premier channel.
— Thulasizwe Simelane (@ThulasSims) April 12, 2017
Carien du Plessis (@carienduplessis)
Previously a senior reporter at City Press, du Plessis is well known across the journalism industry in South Africa, and the Twitterverse.
She is a prolific tweeter too, with over 70 000 posts published to her account, and boasts a follower count tipping 80 000. With that said, her brazen reporting hasn’t always sat well with the likes of the ANC or Helen Zille in the past.
is currently was for a brief stint the acting political editor at Huffington Post SA.
When I told #ChrisHani my fave school subject was Latin, he went on with passion about the Romans and armed struggle. Remembering him today
— carien du plessis (@carienduplessis) April 10, 2017
Andisiwe Makinana (@andimakinana)
Makinana received a slew of user recommendations for addition to this list, and for good reason.
Currently steering City Press’s Parliamentary-reporting ship, Makinana has never been shy to use Twitter as a medium for live reporting, commenting on some of South Africa’s more pressing issues, or seeing the jovial side of living in the country.
She has also previously penned pieces for the likes of Mail & Guardian and IOL.
France has elected a 39-year-old as its next president.
In the words of Bathabile Dlamini: “Aya-rocker ama-younger younger!”
— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) May 7, 2017
Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM)
Munusamy is the current associate editor at The Daily Maverick, and boasts one of the most badass bios in the industry.
“Ranjeni Munusamy is a survivor of the Salem witch trials and has the scars to show it,” it begins, citing her acute knowledge and coverage of South Africa’s politics accrued over the years.
Her Twitter timeline is also an unabashed, informative cocktail of social commentary, excited tweets about Shark Tale, and retweets of articles from other publications across the country.
Could we compile a database of metaphors for the cartoonist so “gang rape” and “crucifixion” aren’t recycled for every political scenario?
— Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM) April 16, 2017
Gugulethu Mhlungu (@GugsM)
Few journalists have mastered the art of incorporating GIFs within tweeted news snippets, but Gugulethu Mhlungu has turned it into her trademark. Memes are incidentally our thing too.
A Rhodes University alum and Talk 702 radio host, you won’t see her livetweeting events so much as providing commentary to said tweets. But often, that’s exactly the gateway consumers of news need to understand and grasp it.
She’s also the lifestyle editor at City Press.
Hlaudi says if he were a leader he would reduce number of political parties,says parties in parliament should have numbers not 1 or 2 seats pic.twitter.com/YqGjkvexHX
— Gugulethu Mhlungu (@GugsM) April 19, 2017
Follow all the journalists mentioned above through Memeburn’s SA Journalists Twitter list.