This edition had a few challenges.
We’ve been moving offices, which is chaotic and disruptive, and essentially means that everything that worked before is now trying to sabotage you and will stop working just because you’ve put it in a new building (especially printers, who are temperamental bastards). But it also gave us a reason to have an office-warming (there was wine) so I’m not really complaining.
The new offices are awesome (you can find us next to the Prospect Street entrance from now on). The only problem I have is that I am now really far away from the place that has the coffee. Not that it matters much, since Fego decided to have some kind of ingredient-crisis. Over the last few weeks, they haven’t been able to serve half the things on their menu. Which is just weak, man: who runs out of chicken mayonnaise? What, is South Africa out of chickens? Seriously? I might have to start moving my business to Coffee Buzz.
Apart from the practical chaos of moving, Perdeby has also undergone a little existential chaos. It’s about that time that we evaluate how the year has gone so far, what we need to improve on, how much harder we’ll have to work (and therefore how much more we have to drink), and a few interesting things sprung up during this evaluation. But I only want to bore you with one of those today, a contentious issue: language policies.
I am Afrikaans. But I study in English. What’s more, I actually study English. I don’t, therefore, have any strong feelings about whether or not UP uses Afrikaans (or any other indigenous language) as a medium of instruction. Ain’t bovvered. I only really give it any kind of thought because, in theory, Perdeby shares the university’s language policy: which means we’re a bilingual paper.
But when I became editor I was very aware that Perdeby was known on campus as an Afrikaans paper. I consciously set out to change this. Which is why you’ll never find an Afrikaans story on the front page, why my editorial won’t ever be written in Afrikaans and why all our important news stories are all in English: because those things have to be read, I feel, by our entire audience, not just a small section of that audience.
As a result, the number of Afrikaans articles in the paper has diminished; and quite frankly, I don’t care. But some of you do, quite vehemently. Here is my biggest problem: a lack of good Afrikaans writers. Most of my writers want to write in English, even if they are Afrikaans speaking (can you blame them?). So, here is my challenge: if you want to see good quality Afrikaans content in the paper, them come and work for us: we’re opening up applications, looking specifically for Afrikaans journalists. The application form and details are all on the website (perdeby.co.za).
The thing about this job is: it means catering to the needs of the largest audience possible. The newspaper isn’t about me, and it’s certainly not about UP the institution. No, it’s about the reader. This paper is for students: and they dictate the content of the paper. What is the point of producing a newspaper people don’t want to read? No publication can exist without putting the needs of their audience first. In fact, publications only exist because there is an audience with a need.
Of course, you can’t possibly please everyone – some people will have legitimate reason for not liking Perdeby, which I can live with, and others are simply idiotic and don’t seem to understand our purpose or variety (or how the media works in general). Nevertheless, we try and satisfy as many people as possible, by including as many genres and sections as we can while staying within the boundaries of what a student newspaper can realistically do. I genuinely believe that there is something for everyone in the paper, and we try and cater to a multiplicity of tastes.
Like I say: I get my mandate from you, not from anyone else, and I try and satisfy that responsibility every day. If you have anything you want to chat to me about, follow me on Twitter @PerdebyEditor.
Whatever you do, don’t panic.