Jimmy Matthews

Jimmy Matthews - zajournos


Jimi Matthews grew up wanting to be a photographer. He was influenced by his father, James Matthews, who was a writer. Matthews grew up around writers, painters, musicians and people who were interested in the world around them. Matthews started out as a fee lance photographer while he was in school. He moved into the film industry after graduating from film school. He has produced several well-known documentaries which have been shown all around the world. He then moved into news and became the first ever head of eTV news. He later became head of TV News at the SABC. More recently, Matthews was appointed the head of Telkom Media’s 24-hour news channel (1).

Personal information

Jimi Matthews lives in the Johannesburg suburb of Hyde Park. He has three children and shares his apartment with his daughter, who recently qualified as a lawyer. Matthews says that playing golf his one of his favourite hobbies and his ambition is to get a score under 90 regularly (1).

Matthews started collecting books on photography more then 20 years ago and now has a collection of about 100 books. The books deal mostly with social documentary commentaries. His favourite photographers are the Brazilian Salgado and Richard Avedon, who is American. Matthews is also impressed with the new breed of post-1990 South African press photographers. He attends as many art exhibitions as he can (1).

When he was younger, Matthews dreamed of becoming a photographer or a film maker. He grew up in the company of musicians, painters, writers, and people who had a keen interest in the world around them. Matthews was also influenced by his father, James Matthews, who was a writer (1).

Matthews has a few career highlights that he will always remember, such as Desmond Tutu's inauguration as Arch Bishop and witnessing former president Mandela's release from prison. His other career highlights include the Champions League Final in Athens which saw Liverpool play AC Milan, and attending the Rugby World Cup final in France, in which South Africa lifted the trophy for a second time (1).

Career Information

Jimi Matthews has been a journalist for 30 years. He began by freelancing as a photographer while in school. These photographs were featured in publications such as The Cape Herald, The Voice, Muslim News, Drum and Bona. (1)

Matthews proceeded into film, directing six films which were shown in film festivals worldwide, including How I’d Love to Be Free. He was also a contributing cameraman for over thirty documentaries. (1)

Matthews later entered visual design, designing book covers for publisher Ravan Press and record covers and posters for South African jazz musician Dudu Pukwana.Then, during the 1980's and early 1990's, Matthews did design work for anti-apartheid organisations. During this period, he held one-man and group photo exhibitions in various countries including South Africa, England, Switzerland, Holland and Sweden. His photographs were printed in publications including Le Monde (Paris) and The Guardian (London). (1)

In the 1980's, during uprisings in South Africa, Matthews recorded apartheid's final days, filming occasionally for Dutch TV and the BBC. Matthews then worked fulltime as a cameraman and producer for Visnews and Reuters. At Reuters, Matthews was promoted to producer, senior producer and then finally bureau chief. In 1998, Matthews became the first Head of News at eTV. He moved on to the SABC, where he became Head of TV News in 2002, then in 2005 he became Head of Sport Production. He resigned in 2007. (2)

In Febuary 2007 Matthews became Head of Telkom media’s 24-hour news channel. (3)

Recognitions and awards

In 1979, Jimmi Matthews received a scholarship from the International University Exchange Fund to study photography. Afterwards, he branched out to film, and was awarded a United Nations scholarship to study film in 1980. He has been recognised for his contribution in documenting apartheid atrocities in South Africa (1). He was also a member of the judging panels of important journalistic awards, including the 2003 CNN Africa Journalist of the Year in the sports division (4)
Matthews was also a judge in the South African Taco Kuiper Awards and Funds for Investigative Journalism in Print Media in 2006 and 2007 (5). Matthews went on to judge the SAB Journalist of the Year Awards in 2007 and 2008 (6). He also occasionally participates in media forums such as African Media Leadership Conference in Kampala, Uganda, hosted by the Sol Plaatjie Institute For Media Leadership (7).

Other professional activities

Throughout his journalistic career, Matthews has been involved in many aspects of the media. Some of his 'struggle photography' can be seen in the South African History Archive (SAHA) Original Photograph Collection, which contains photography reflecting apartheid South Africa. He also has photgraphs in the District 6 Museum, which serves to display the works of those who contributed to the growth of media during the struggle against apartheid (8).

Matthews' camera work is not restricted to photography. He has recently produced We Are The Elephant, which examines the development of resistance in South Africa during the 1980's (9). He has also contributed works of literature, one of which is the short story “African Children” (10). This story appeared in Something to Write Home About: Reflections From the Heart of History by Sahm Venter and Claude Colart, with the foreword written by Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.

External Links

1. District 6 Museum: http://www.districtsix.co.za/collection.htm

2. "Snuki Cracks the Whip": http://secure.financialmail.co.za/05/0211/focus/bfocus.htm

3. "SABC livid about 'lies'": http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/News/1059/5ada93ffa49349049168b7563dc6ae98/10-02-2005-03-02/SABC_livid_about_lies

4. "Converging technologies change the ways news is consumed" : http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=553&fArticleId=3892264

5. Eurasian Media Forum : http://www.eamedia.org/history/2005/delegates

Primary Sources

1. Matthews, Jimi. 2009.

Secondary Sources

2. Hellkom. 2007. Jimi Matthews Joins Telkom Media. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from http://www.hellkom.co.za/news/local/4079-Jimi-Matthews-joins-Telkom-Media.htm%29

3.Biz Community. 2007. Jimi Matthews to head Telkom Media news. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/66/14916.html

4.CNN. 2009. CNN African Journalist of the Year 2003. Retrived 18 October 2009 from

5. Journalism.co.za . 2008. Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism Awards and Grants. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from http://www.journalism.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=415&Itemid=309

6. The 29th SAB Sports Journalist of the Year Awards. 2008. Judges. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from http://www.sabsportsjourno.co.za/index.php?page=judges

7. Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership. 2009. Conferences: Africa Media Leadership Conference 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from http://www.spiml.co.za/index.php?pid=8

8.South African History Archive. 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from

9.We Are The Elephant. 1987. Retrieved on 18 October 2009 from

10. Short Story : African Children. Retrieved 18 October 2009 from

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