Youth’s time to blos­som

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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