It is often said that great journalists read and write books. And when it is a veteran journalist who has penned a book- you must take notes when reading that book. And that was exactly what I was doing while perusing through the pages of Jeremy Maggs latest book.
In My Final Answer, Jeremy takes readers through his three-decade career in journalism- which has seen him became part of South Africa’s news broadcasting furniture.
Like a media elder he is, Maggs- in a candid, but hilarious way recounts his lows and highs in his journalism career- while serving some educational lessons for young aspiring journalists.
Now, as a journalist myself, I found myself nodding in agreement with some of the advice Jeremy is dishing out to not only junior journalists, but to the managers who run the newsrooms.
The majority of managers- be it editors or executive managers in the newsrooms continue to ignore the mental health of their reporters- something which is a major issue faced by so many reporters in many newsrooms. Editors often prioritize stories more than the mental wellbeing of their reporters- who face traumatic events on a day-to-day basis in the field.
I like the fact that Jeremy- having occupied management positions himself in many newsrooms, not only holds himself accountable for having failed to prioritize the mental health of his soldiers, but he is now encouraging those who run the newsrooms to pay attention to this important issue.
My Final Answer is one book that will not only change the lives of so many people in the newsrooms but will give those who are starting their journalism career the know-how to survive in this thankless profession.
With all the good points and lessons Jeremy dished out in this book, however, I found myself strongly disagreeing with his assertion that journalism should not be something that people should study at school.
South African journalism is in its worst state- especially in the broadcasting space- because of people who have not studied journalism.
The so-called social media influencers with followers get to be hired, and as a result of them not having studied this craft- good journalism in broadcasting is slowly diminishing.
To be on the radio, television, and write for print mediums, people must go and study journalism- and that is how we will save South African journalism from further collapsing, Mr Maggs( I say this with respect).
Besides that, My Final Answer should be on every journalist, editor, and manager’s desk.
To junior journalists- read this book, it will help you become the best journalist ever.