Youth’s time to blossom
OMETIMES, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” These were the salient words espoused by Nelson Mandela – a rallying call for each generation to chart its own path in trying to make a positive impact on society.
In this edition, we, the youth of South Africa’s flagship daily newspaper, have been given an opportunity to produce a paper that attempts to highlight issues that we believe speak to the state of our young people – our peers.
We compiled it in honour of the youth of 1976; a generation that let their greatness blossom by reigniting the anti-apartheid Struggle’s flame, which had been dimming owing to the repression meted out by the oppressive regime on progressive movements rebelling against a crime against humanity.
It is well documented how the Class of ’76 felt that their parents had been browbeaten into submission by the Nationalists, who chiefly used violence to induce black South Africans’ subservience to the cruel system it had concocted.
That generation was emphatic that it would not kowtow to the absurdities of DF Malan, HF Verwoerd, PW Botha and company.
Armed only with a dustbin lid and the ubiquitous stones found on gravel roads across townships – areas designated by the oppressors as reservoirs of cheap labour and mental enslavement – they faced the might of apartheid’s army in order to bring about change in the plight of millions of black people.
We pay homage to these heroes by trying to talk frankly about the challenges the youth grapple with today.
We celebrate the successes of our peers, but also our failures, because it is through the celebration of failures that we get to learn from them and force a reversal of the afflictions that are holding us back. And there are many of them: A legacy of Bantu education that lingers over us and perpetuates the intergenerational nature of a lack of universal, quality education; gross unemployment; debilitating substance abuse; crime and many other issues too long to list here.
We were mindful of the criticism we might receive from people who think the edition is a publicity stunt.
“Why doesn’t The Star regularly produce content specifically aimed at the youth?” we hear some readers ask.
We accept this critique, but offer reasons why we have not produced enough youth content to our, and our readers’, liking.
First, the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa showed in its first quarter analysis that newspaper circulations were down a collective 31.7% across all dailies, weeklies, weekend papers, local papers and free papers. This has resulted in the major newspaper media companies, including ours, downscaling staff numbers.
This has led to smaller newsrooms and the so-called “juniorisation” of newsrooms, which some purists (read old people) have said would be the death of our industry. We respectfully disagree. The dedication, exuberance and talent which is housed inside number 47 Pixley ka Seme Street in Joburg’s CBD – the iconic Star building – is prepared to take up the baton bequeathed to us by the glorious ’76 generation to regale stories from our wonderful country.
We use our company’s “Digital-First, PrintBest” strategy to lead our publication into the digital age – anchored on the exponential rise of social media sites.
However, we are careful not to be subsumed by the rat race for likes, retweets and shares that has elicited the unhealthy growth of fake news and paid Twitter.
We are aware that the key tenets of true journalism – accuracy, balance and fairness – will always be important, regardless of the changing mediums of reporting.
This we do in the knowledge that nothing is more important for our democracy than a wellinformed and active youth. It is time for South Africa’s young people to blossom into greatness.