There have been many highlights over the course of Michelle’s 15-year career; meeting political and world leaders, entertainers both locally and from around the world. But her career highlight is what she is currently living – anchoring the Newzroom Afrika breakfast show, AM Report.
What led you to a career in news?
I saw a quote the other day that journalists are really just people who rock up to an incident, and ask “What happened here?” I guess that pretty much sums up my career as a journalist – the curiosity about life, and hunger for justice in the world. I started out as a runner at a Cape Town newspaper where my daily assignment was to go into the Cape Flats and find a story. It is something that has stayed with me throughout my career because stories (and there are good news stories too!) are everywhere, if we just go out there and look for them.
What excites you most about Newzroom Afrika and where the channel is going?
The idea that Newzroom Afrika’s ethos is about being the voice of the viewer, telling people centred stories, I believe in that. The team at Newzroom Afrika is young, energetic and has a hunger for telling people’s stories. I believe our viewers connect with that.
How do you feel about the regulation of social media and its effects on journalism?
In the era of fake news, this is an aspect of journalism that is becoming more and more difficult to navigate. While this technology has empowered journalists and journalism around the world, and facilitated the free flow of information, it can and has been used by governments to stifle freedom of expression.
Social media and new technology were meant to make censorship obsolete, instead, it has made it so much more complicated in the digital age. Those bizarre four years of Donald Trump as the American president brought on a new form of censorship, as Trump tweeted information where facts were optional. Often tweeting directly at or about journalists he disagreed with, that is a form of censorship for sure. But it was also a time when America started to become more attuned to news events and that is a great opportunity for journalism.
How do you manage the dynamics of breaking news day after day?
In South Africa especially where this is a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence, we have a news cycle that develops at breakneck speed, and the only thing you can do to keep up, is to keep up! As a news anchor, you absolutely must devour news and read widely and often. Then, when you are live on air when a story breaks, tell the viewer the information that is confirmed, with a promise of more updates to come, as soon as they are available.
If you were a superhero for a day, what superpowers would you choose to make a lasting change in the world?
If there was one situation I could change in the world, it would be that of poverty, violence, drugs, and the economic exclusion that so many of our children and young people face. There are so many communities here at home and around the world where children grow up in war torn countries and they have no idea what it is like to live without that constant threat. Children who grow up in gang-ridden, drug infested communities with no way out when they should be growing up in an enabling environment, aimed at helping them reach their own potential. I would choose that as my superpower.
Are there any iconic journalists/broadcasters that inspire you and why?
Sir David Attenborough is the first name that springs to mind. His work as a broadcaster and activist became his life’s passion. And I feel a great connection with that.
If you could have dinner with five famous people from any period history, who would they be?
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Sir David Attenborough, Freddy Mercury (actually, all of Queen!), Diego Maradona, Oliver Tambo.