Raymond Joseph

Raymond Joseph


Raymond Joseph, a freelance journalist focusing on change in the media environment, has come a long way since starting off at the Jewish Times in 1973. After completing a diploma in journalism at SAAN in 1974, another in Industrial Relations from Cape Technikon in 1988, getting married and raising two daughters, and spending 36 years in the industry, Joseph still believes journalism in South Africa has a bright future [2]. He explains that the media industry has never been freer than it is today, and that with the proper skills and training, the new generation of journalists will be adequately equipped to handle the changes in newsrooms in recent years – large scale juniorisation and fewer journalists employed to handle an ever-increasing workload [1]. Although South African journalists today are not restricted by the kind of draconian legal constraints as in previous years, they do face their own challenges of dealing with the continuously shifting face of the media, trying to keep up with evolving technology and a wealth of new media forms that is changing the way journalists must operate [1]. However, with Joseph’s vision for a more hands-on training approach these limitations will be overcome and used to each journalist’s advantage.

Personal Information:

Joseph was born in Johannesburg on April 3, 1954 into a liberal Jewish family where he was surrounded by books and newspapers. He matriculated in 1971 from Oxford College in Johannesburg, and then completed a year of compulsory military conscription in the air force. However, he had not thought about journalism as a career until he landed his first journalism position at the small community newspaper, the Jewish Times, also in Johannesburg. He was accepted in the SAAN (SA Associated Newspapers) cadet course, where he completed a three year diploma in journalism, with much of it consisting of on-the-job training at various papers around the country, owned by the company. Soon after starting out as a journalist, Joseph moved in with his girlfriend, Sharon Fernie, eventually marrying her in 1978 [1]. He later completed his second diploma in Industrial Relations at Cape Technikon. They later had two daughters, who were raised by Sharon after she resigned from her job as a legal secretary. Without her support, Joseph wonders if he would have coped with the stresses brought on by the media industry and achieved all that he has [1].

Career Information:

After his short time at the Jewish Times, he completed his journalism cadet course at SAAN (now Avusa) and internships at the Rand Daily Mail, the Weekend Post and the Sunday Times, before Joseph was posted to the Sunday Express in Johannesburg as a general news reporter. He then moved on to the Sunday Times in 1975, and spent two years as a crime reporter [2]. Between 1976 and 1989 Joseph held various other positions at the Sunday Times, including Bureaux Chief in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, as well as a three year stint as a foreign correspondent based in the paper’s London, Fleet Street bureau. He also spent two years as a Sunday Times news editor, based in Johannesburg. Joseph became both partner and editor at Our Times, a community newspaper in Jeffrey’s Bay, before being hired as Cape Editor for the Sunday Times in 1991, helping to launch the Cape Metro, a regional supplement to the paper [2]. He was a founding member of the Big Issue Cape Town (now Big Issue South Africa, launched in 1996, and also served as editor from early 1997 to 1998 [1] [2]. He served a second, six month, term as editor of the Big Issue when he stood in for the editor while she was on maternity leave.

Between 1997 and 2001 Joseph set up Southern Tip Media, a news agency serving both foreign and local publications, and a media consultancy [2]. Since 1997 Joseph has been a freelance journalist, while also working as a media consultant for several years. In 2005 he was part of a small group who helped launch the Daily Voice, a Cape Town-based tabloid [2].
Joseph has also worked extensively as a consultant to Independent Newspapers, serving as news editor at the Saturday Star, the Weekend Argus and the Cape Argus. He has also done extensive training courses at Cape Community Newspapers and mentoring programmes at the Cape Argus [1] [2]. From 2008 he spent 18 months as a consultant for Media24, and was involved in several different projects. Joseph, who specialises in start-ups of both community and mainstream publications, as well as restructuring news rooms and content, has also worked extensively as a journalism trainer in both South and southern Africa [1].

Awards and recognitions:

Although Joseph has gained much success and recognition from his peers within the South African media industry, he feels strongly that competitions which are self-entered often serve only to enhance egos, and he has therefore never entered any of these [1]. As Joseph’s work is more behind the scenes, focussed on improving newsrooms and managing his many projects, awards for this side of journalism would be hard to come by, resulting in Joseph receiving little formal recognition for his achievements, even though the achievements themselves draw recognition from many of Joseph’s peers and other media organisations. Joseph’s attention is focused more on how the media industry can be improved from the bottom up as well as on community engagement than it is on improving his personal status as a journalist, which is shown by his constant striving towards reaching better levels of training and improving the productivity and efficiency of newsrooms around the country [2].

Other Professional Activities:

Joseph has not limited himself to the journalism field only in South Africa, but has also worked in Namibia, where he helped launched the Big Issue Namibia in 2002 [2]. He also works as a freelance journalist, contributing to newspapers and magazines both in South Africa and overseas. He works extensively as a journalism trainer and is active not only in South Africa, but also in Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia and other countries in the region, and has provided specialist training to journalists at the Cape Argus to provide more effective “bottom-up” journalistic coverage of elections [1].

In early 2008 Joseph was contracted by Media24 as Group Editor to launch a stable of 22 community newspapers in Gauteng, but the project was dropped due to poor economic conditions [2]. Joseph has also run courses for fourth year students at Rhodes University over the years, providing training in reporting and writing. He also worked with Derek Luyt of PSAM developing a course in investigative journalism which is specifically aimed at a community and grassroots level [2]. Joseph’s ambition however, is directed towards a journalism academy that he hopes to one day start with the aim of providing working journalists with hands-on training in order to supply them with the skills they need to be successful in the media industry [1].

External Links:

The Big Issue

South African Freelancers Association

Primary Sources
[1] Raymond Joseph - Personal Communication

[2] Raymond Joesph - extended Curriculum Vitae

Secondary Sources

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