Iconic SABC investigative reporter Chriselda Lewis


Chriselda Lewis, the iconic SABC investigative reporter who handled both the Prophet Shephard Bushiri ‘money laundering’ story and, lately, the Duduzane Zuma ‘culpable murder’ quagmire among her top projects, has shared tips
on how to make money through journalism. During a panel discussion moderated by media consultant Wilton Mamba last Friday at a Media Dialogue hosted by the Bible Society Eswatini, Lewis and others fielded questions from journalists and church leaders who participated in the dialogue. After both Lewis and Mbongeni Mbingo, the Managing Editor of the Swazi Observer Group of newspapers seemed to concur that journalism did not pay, Lewis was asked to give tips, based on her experience, how journalists could make money under the circumstances. “Journalism does not pay. It’s the same thing the world over. This should explain the high turnover in the industry, as many young people quit when they get into their 30s and want to start a family, and suddenly realise it would not be possible given what they are paid. Such challenges while causing some to quit, may force others to turn to corruption.
If you take up journalism with the ambition to make money, then you are in the wrong profession,” she warned. Lewis said the first thing that would assist journalists succeed in the profession was passion. “You have got to love the job, and care about the people enough never to allow them to be manipulated, cheated and robbed by politicians; It is important for you to decide exactly who you are in the scheme of things. If you know your worth, you will not sell yourself short,” she said. She said no one stays long in this profession, let alone even make money, if they come solely looking to make money. First one must have passion to contribute to the common good through what
they know best – journalism. “As a journalist you make it your personal business to hold public office bearers, particularly politicians, to account. As a journalist, this brings utmost satisfaction that you have done your bit and contributed to ensuring that politicians deliver on their promises. If you are passionate about your job, you will do it well. And if you excel, you will become sought after by other media houses. Soon you will be freelancing
and making good money for you to live on.” Lewis has been credited with single handedly shaking up the SABC’s staid and dreary daily TV news coverage. She told participants how she lives on knife-edge, buying drugs, busting bogus doctors, confronting shops over old meat all in the name of good journalism. Lewis is turning the SABC’s flagship news show News @ 7 into must-watch television, as well as its other news bulletins also running her stories. Her ongoing gawk-interest stories in prime time TV news bulletins has the South African TV industry taking notice, as Chriselda Lewis churns out eye-popping story after story which viewers of the public broadcaster’s 36 years
of TV news coverage have never seen in that style – or being done so consistently – before. With veritable Carte Blanche panache – and not something South Africa’s million of viewers dependent on public access television are accustomed to or have ever seen on the SABC before – the hawkish Chriselda Lewis (with shaky cameraman in tow) does story after story of actual real investigation pieces. How long before M-Net and Combined Artists poach the SABC’s new news star for Carte Blanche – or eNews and the eNCA steal her away? Lewis told participants that what she has achieved can be done by anyone else who chooses to work hard and responsibly, reporting without fear or favour.

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