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30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

Photo manipulation in journalism: evil, crutch or lifebuoy?
2017-09-04

Description: Albe Grobbelaar Tags: Photo manipulation, Albe Grobbelaar, Albe, OJ Simpson, journalism, Department of Communication Science, Communication Science   

Albe Grobbelaar, veteran journalist and lecturer in the
Department of Communication Science at the UFS.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin


Since the 1800s the manipulation of photographs has been common practice, and who can forget the OJ Simpson Time magazine cover in 1994? Albe Grobbelaar, lecturer in the Department of Communication Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), asked in a special lecture on 18 August 2017 whether “Photo manipulation in Journalism” was an evil habit, a crutch or a lifebuoy.

“As a journalist I have always been interested in photography. And the principle of photo manipulation or tampering with photos, as we call it, is something that has interested me ever since,” Grobbelaar said. Photo manipulation is an area that has garnered many academic interest and is not a new trend but a practice that started in the 1830s when photos came into popular use. “It is not always done with ulterior motives, artists played with photographs to get unique effects.” Photo manipulation is not only to create fake news, but is sometimes used to convey novelty and create shock to news readers. 

Different viewpoints for different circumstances
He talked about the spectrum of viewpoints on photo manipulation. Some conservative journalism schools say photos should never be retouched while other feel it is fine to tamper with pictures. “What I tried to convey in the lecture was that one should consider different circumstances differently,” Grobbelaar said. As a journalist he believes that news photos should never be manipulated.

He mentioned the example of the mugshot of OJ Simpson that the Los Angeles Police Department released to the media. “Newsweek and Time both used the photo on their front pages, but Time deliberately darkened the picture so that OJ, a black man, would appear more sinister,” Grobbelaar said. It is, however, common practice in the fashion industry to retouch images that are used in fashion magazines. 

Use own judgment to validate photos
In the age of social media it has become easy to manipulate photos and which has been labelled fake news. “I would advise people to use their own judgment when validating the authenticity of photos,” Grobbelaar said. It is important to verify whether they are from a reliable news outlet.

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