My Journalism Volunteer Story: From controversial articles to Game of Thrones quiz nights

Words: Jo Elliott

I came to Cape Town back in January of this year and graduated from University during the summer of last year. I’d been saving to travel since I was eighteen so I was naturally very excited about this new adventure. I studied Journalism at Uni, but wanted to gain more practical experience working as a journalist before applying for jobs back home in the UK.

Cape Chameleon was the perfect fit for what I wanted from my project. I was thrown in the deep end pretty swiftly when I arrived, having to come up with ideas and pitch articles as soon as I arrived, but I loved that. My desire for getting a hands-on, journalistic experience was definitely met: I pitched article ideas, interviewed sources and was constantly writing.

Working for Cape Chameleon

Working here allowed me to stretch my skills so much, and I definitely believe I’m a far better writer for it. I challenged myself with articles covering extremely sensitive topics, like gender-based violence and illegal abortion and became so much more confident in my abilities as a writer.

My supervisor, Corlia, was incredibly helpful and so supportive during my time in Cape Town and she really made my experience great. She cares so much about her volunteers and about Cape Chameleon and was always there to talk things through when I got stuck on the conclusions of my articles-which was often!

Our Fun Office

No one week was ever the same at Cape Chameleon. I was constantly adapting to changing situations. The office was fairly relaxed, but rest assured that I was never bored. I revelled in the freedom of getting to choose what I wanted to write. It allowed me to be so creative with the ideas that I came up with. It also meant that the pieces that ended up in my portfolio, really reflect me and the topics I care about the most. Over ten weeks on the project, I was able to work on such a wide variety of articles and even use the History side of my degree for a few of my articles, which was really great.

Through working on the Journalism project, I was able to experience so much more of what Cape Town had to offer than just the tourist sights. I met people who were doing amazing things for their communities. From the Cart Horse Protection Association who ensure the welfare and livelihood of cart horses and their drivers in the Cape Flats to the Women’s Legal Centre who ensure that women are able to access their full legal rights. Telling people’s stories is the core of being a journalist and it was such a privilege being able to hear the stories of so many people doing amazing work in Cape Town.

Finding Inspiration

It’s not all work and no play though. Throughout my time in Cape Town, I made amazing friends, ate great food and tried everything from sandboarding to safaris. In addition, through my work on the Journalism project, I went to two really fun events: a comedy improv show and a Game of Thrones-themed pub Quiz. Our supervisor made sure that we took the time to get out of the office at least once a week so that we could explore the cultural sights of Cape Town as well.

A trip I’ll never forget

Working at Cape Chameleon has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I knew I loved writing but throwing myself into the practicalities of being a journalist really confirmed for me how much I love this job. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that I got during the ten weeks I was there and would definitely recommend it to everyone! I am a better writer and a better journalist because of my experiences at Cape Chameleon. And I will never forget my time in Cape Town, the friends that I made, the stories that I wrote and most importantly, the people I got to meet. Before coming to Cape Town, I wanted a way of gaining more experience whilst also getting to travel. Cape Chameleon definitely gave me those things, and so much more.

Learn more about the Journalism project here https://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/projects/journalism-internship-south-africa/

Originally published at https://capechameleon.co.za/my-journalism-volunteer-story/ on April 1st, 2020.

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Jo Elliott

Jo Elliott

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