George Matlala

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George is making great strides as one of South Africa’s preeminent political reporters, with his name often being mentioned with those of established reputable reporters. He is currently a journalist for The Sunday Independent newspaper and obtained his B Tech degree in journalism only three years ago.

“I am a driven young person, who is consistently in pursuit of new knowledge and better ways of understanding the quandary that is life.” He says he believes one has to work extraordinarily hard to be an extraordinary person in whatever one does. Like most people, his carreer path was motivated and affected by his childhood.

“Activism was planted in my DNA at an early age. So it was a matter of which career would I follow to get answers to the questions that I have always been asking and to fulfil my desire to be part of those on the forefront of change. Journalism was the answer,” he says.

Born and bred in a township called Evaton in the Vaal Triangle, about 50 km south of Johannesburg, George started his career as an intern at BIG Media in Johannesburg in 2007. BIG Media is a news agency for, among others, the City of Johannesburg website. “I was mentored by great people there including Barbara Ludman, who nurtured people like Ferial Haffajee, the editor of City Press,” he adds.

This was evidently his big break, as he joined City Press in March 2008, where he was initially moved around different departments at the paper before ending up at the political unit. “That is where I really cut my journalistic teeth. I stayed at City Press for two and half years before moving to The Sunday Independent in October 2010,” he explains.

He adds that his student days at TUT were incredible and he always strived to get distinctions in his studies. “I managed to notch up a few distinctions; I also did a lot of partying, like many other students, but remained squarely focused on passing my studies,” he says.He was part of the campus newspaper UPDATE and of TNG FM, now known as TUT FM, and says it was an exciting and fulfilling experience for him.

He says that aspiring media students should make sure that they understand what journalism is, in its truest sense, and that it is not a platform for being popular, but an opportunity to use one’s ability to reach thousands of South Africans to educate and inform them and to shape their opinions.

“The media also provides us with an opportunity to help people understand their reality and how they can change it in a manner that will help them lead a better and fulfilling life. You must be prepared to do public service, although not for government. You will be an activist in a non-governmental arena,” he says.

He says he will remain in journalism as there is still a lot he wants to achieve, “I also want to be an editor of a reputable newspaper. He further added that he feels he has made the right choice of being a Journalist. I have made the perfect choice I have to say. If there is anything I am going to do beyond journalism, it will be within the ambit of communication, with a dynamic of activism within it.”

His personal life is not so different from his professional life, which makes it easier for him to strike the balance. “My personal life is not diametrically different from my career. Journalism is all about going out there and interacting with people and having lots of fun. My personal life is also like that,” he adds.

When he’s not running after the deadline, or interviewing people, he reads and also makes time to have fun with his friends.



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