I am a product of my grand’s teaching

The world of media is cutthroat and unforgiving, to survive it requires adaptation and consistency. The 2015 South African journalist of the year; Bareng Batho Kortjas took time and had an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with The Village Mag about his rise in the industry and how he managed to remain relevant throughout. 

Bareng Batho Kortjas (BBK) is a journalist and sports editor of the Sunday Times newspaper, previously employed by the Sunday World newspaper where he stayed for seven years after he was a founding member of the organization before returning to the Sunday Times in 2007 and he has been there since. BBK was born in a township called Chesterville which is approximately 13km west of Durban. He is the first born of three children, a husband and a father four children. 

He was raised by his maternal grandfather who used to love reading newspapers, that is where BBK – as a young boy –started developing the love for reading and writing. He would buy his grandfather The Mercury newspaper during the week and on Sundays The Crickets newspaper. Like many other black family households at the time, his family used old newspapers as tissue papers, whenever he had to use the toilet he was fortified by his grandfather to read the articles before carrying out his business of the day. It is because of the above that his English teachers picked up on his talent for reading and sentence composition and then further encouraged him to look into the world of media. 

BBK watched a lot of news with his grandfather on what was happening around the world and it was clear as day what he was going to study after matric. He brushed aside the thoughts of studying medicine as he was not exactly a fan of numbers and finances at home were not great. As a young media enthusiast; when he was in standard 9 (grade 11) he watched a lot of television shows and one of his fondest was a show called Agenda which also invigorated his love for journalism and the media industry. 

In 1993 he enrolled with the then Technikon Natal now known as Durban University of Technology (DUT) to study journalism. Two years prior to the that in 1991, together with his colleague Mazwi Ngcobo formed a community newspaper called Izwi “the voice” based in Chesterville township. Mr. Ngcobo who had just returned home from exile with BBK’s uncle in Nigeria, where he was fortunate enough to study media. Izwi was the best local source of information as it was used to convey as efficiently as possible, current local information, just like The Village Mag, it had a sports section, news about community development etc. this meant BBK had two years of experience in journalism before he even set foot in an auditorium.  

The man is a renowned sports journalist, but what many do not know is that, post his studies he started out as hardcore news reporter, he started out working as a junior news reporter focusing on court and crime reporting, this was when he was with the Sunday Times newspaper. His love for sports journalism came through his mentor, Mr. Thomas Kwenaite who at the time “was writing big stories that shook the foundations of South African football and that did not endear him to the people he was exposing and at some stage they were making threats to his life” he said. 

To date he is the sports editor for the Sunday Times newspaper, it was through his work that he was fortunate enough to work for the country’s two biggest media houses, Multichoice and the SABC. He worked on various media platforms for the two powerhouses, shows such as SoccerZone, Soccer 411 and as a soccer analysist come to mind when you think of his work on tv. He was an integral production member of the SABC’s Sports@10 hosted by Thomas Mlambo. He was also a member of Metro FM’s breakfast show which was hosted by Thomas where he tasked with reading the sports bulletin.  

BBK stretched the importance of being original and authentic rather that someone trying to imitate or mimic someone who already exists in the field, a new person in the field needs to have the unique selling proposition that is perseverance. For years we have seen media houses employ influencers and celebrities as sports casters and it is clear the producers are focused on the wrong end of the stick, but BBK noted that Journalism is not the number of people who follow you on twitter or any social media footprints, “Journalism is a profession which is supposed to be noble profession, a profession that gives people information and at the same time making sure that we have enough information for people to be able to make their own decisions”.Journalism is not a career for the faint hearted, it is not a joyride as you are continuously on the road looking for the news and as Denzel Washington once said “if you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed, if you do read it you are misinformed. One of the long term effects of too much information is the need to be first not even to be true” that is a very powerful statement that journalists need to take into consideration whenever reporting on a story.

BBK is undoubtedly one of the country’s decorated journalist of his time. It is our wish as The Village Mag (TVM) that we too can emulate even a tiny bit of his work. To listen to this interview and hear more stories of this icon’s life click here

You can follow BBK on social media:  

Facebook: BBK Kortjas         Twitter: BBK Unplugged Instagram: BBKUnplugged99