Editorial executives usually do not have time, to tell aspiring writers where they are going wrong. But there’s one remarkable Copy Editor, who does not hesitate to give a few pointers on how to get it alright, which is definitely a sign of leadership excellence. Omphitlhetse Mooki, the Assistant Editor of The Star newspaper, spoke to Solam Yves Ludidi about her prestigious career in this once male-dominated industry.
(Photo, Omphitlhetse Mooki, the Assistant Editor of The Star newspaper)
Feature Article by Solam Yves Ludidi
Solam Yves Ludidi: Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Journalism?
Omphitlhetse Mooki: My mom is a news junkie, so growing up we watched about three news bulletins in the evenings. This was in addition to listening to the radio, early in the morning while preparing for school. So, I can’t remember the exact moment, but I remember watching people like Nothemba Madumo, looking all elegant and intelligent on BOP television. And I thought this is what I’d love to do – be that person who delivers information to the masses.
SYL: What do you appreciate about your job?
OM: It keeps me on my toes and allows me to know a little bit about everything.
SYL: Who do you look up to for inspiration?
OM: My mom and every other woman who wakes up every day, and choose to rise above their circumstances. Those women who are not only fighters, but choose to win at everything they set their minds on.
SYL: How do you measure the worthiness of a proposed in-depth feature article?
OM: It has to go beyond just ticking all the five W’s and H. It has to be well written, catch the reader’s attention and keep the reader glued till the end. Most importantly, it has to be informative; why should the reader bother?
SYL: When do you see the need to reject a query for publication? And why would you spend your time responding to unsuitable material?
OM: First part of your question: When it doesn’t make sense, when it’s not for our target market, when it’s offensive and not balanced. Second part: There’s material I ignore as I don’t have time, but some people need to be taught a lesson as some make honest mistakes.
SYL: Tell me about your career journey before landing this job.
OM: I’ve worked for various publications and a news agency over the past 14 years. I then joined The Star in 2010 as a court reporter, covering cases like the Eugene Terreblanche and Oscar Pistorius murder trials
SYL: How would you define the essence of your work and responsibilities?
OM: I’m responsible for the Opinion pages, so I liaise with our contributors and readers who drop us letters for the Letters page. I also assist in managing the newsroom, working together with our News Editors. I do a lot of reading, more than 8000 words per day, editing and proofreading.
SYL: What determines the success of a Proof Reader and Copy Editor?
OM: You’ve got to have a keen eye for detail, be level headed, be able to work well under pressure. And most importantly, have good communication skills and work well with people.
SYL: There’s no such thing as “bad editorship”. Is that true?
OM: False. You can’t afford to let things fall through the cracks. You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled and go through the paper with a fine-toothed comb, to ensure there aren’t any mistakes. You can’t afford to take your reader’s for granted.
SYL: What would Omphitlhetse Mooki’s advice be to tomorrow’s journalists?
OM: Work hard, own your story, have a backbone but remain humble.