Meet our competition judge: Doreen Gough
06 March 2019
She receives all the competition entries every month and has the meticulous task to go through them and judge them according to the guidelines provided by the executive committee.
Doreen Gough is a founding and honorary member of the NPC. We asked her a few questions to find out more about her life and to get a few tips on what she is looking for in those competition entries.
Can you give us a quick summary of your career?
My journalism career spanned court, crime, education, medical reporting. I was first woman to be appointed acting news editor at the Pretoria News. I started off as a tracer in a drawing office, finished my matric part time, became a secretary (touch typing and shorthand benefited my later career!), and finally went into journalism in 1976. I completed my BA (English and Communication through Unisa) and later joined Unisa PR department in 1985.
You worked as a journalist during turbulent times. How was it being a journo in the 1980's?
I started, as I said in 1976 - very interesting times - with authorities trying to clamp down on media. The newspapers The World and Weekend World were banned while I was a journalist. Censorship was draconian and we were constantly approached by either Bureau of State Security or Security Police to spy on each other.
I covered the Biko Inquest (Helen Zille was at the Rand Daily Mail and sat in front of me at the inquest), the various 'terror trials'. But we had a wonderful sense of comradeship on the newsroom.
Do you think it was easier or more difficult to be a journalist in those years?
I think social media and the technology has in many ways made it easier. However, as a result the approach to getting stories has changed. I have noticed reporters stay at their desks and rely on emails to get stories. Personal networking still pays off best.
You were also a founding member of the National (then Pretoria) Press Club. Can you share a good memory with us?
There are many. One of the first was our club being addressed in the Pretoria Club in Paul Kruger Street. Women were only allowed in the side entrance - needless to say we women journalists refused. Those early days the public relations and media industries needed to build relationships with each other more so than today. The time FW Botha was newsmaker and he was late because he was negotiating Nelson Mandela's release. He sent a message that we should please start without him and he would join later. However, by the time he joined much wine had been consumed. The less said the better…
What are you looking for when you judge the competition entries?
In articles I'm looking for the angle that makes us look at issues differently. Stories on wildlife, poaching has appeared so often that people are getting desensitised and this is a big challenge to reporters. Photographers also face a big challenge - telling a story without a caption. Video entries have a double challenge - the content, the angle and the camerawork all play a part in the final product.
Do you have any advice to the entrants of the Journalist of the Month or Photographer of the Month competitions?
Yes, I have been impressed by many of the entries so far. They were well written, good interviews. Don't stop learning, no matter how experienced you are. Study the content and photography of top publications and the camerawork and interview of top news channels. The media play such an important role in our lives. It is vital to strive for quality. Never forget you are opinion formers.