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Mother of two, living life in small-town South Africa

2007, according to Nina and Sam

I ignored tonight’s Survivor final (so over it!) to sort out my photographs of the past year. Talk about digital pollution… Anyway, I have posted a Picasa web album, using some of my favourite images of Carolina and Sam from the past year:

Kids 2007
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Filed under: Kids stuff, Personal, , , ,

When journalists can’t be bothered to read

Business Report 3-deck poster

Guy Berger sent me this jaw-dropping photograph of a Business Report poster. I have no idea when it was taken or who took it, but it makes me want to weep — this is, after all, the stuff only seen in a sub-editor’s goriest nightmare. And, more than anything, it makes me fume with fury.

I was part of the tiny team that launched Business Report in 1995, with loads of blood, sweat and tears. It was hard work, chaotic and pressured. But we did it! A pet project of Independent Newspapers‘ chief executive Ivan Fallon at the time, the idea was to beef up the group’s financial coverage as well as offer advertisers a national platform — essentially, taking on Business Day. It was a logistical nightmare: one newspaper to go into four different titles (Pretoria News, The Star, The Mercury and The Cape Times), each with its own advertising configuration and readership quirks . If only the production bosses at the now defunct ThisDay had asked me, I could’ve warned them :)

But, working with some of the best subs in the country, we did it! And now, of the core launch team, I can think of only one (Jeremy Gordin) who still works for the company. The others have all moved on to greener pastures, including Tony Nicholson (The Sydney Morning Herald), Vernon Matzopolous (Summit TV), Carina Le Grange (Media24), Don Bayley (The Sunday Times) and Les Tilley.

I worked at the Independent at various different titles from 1994 (Pretoria News) until I burnt out at Independent Online in 2000. And only a handful of the many people I worked with remain. Working for an employer that is as ruthless in its pursuit of profit as Independent is neither easy nor pleasant.

But what upsets me, really, is what that Business Report poster says about the morale at the company. It shows that no one cares anymore. Is morale so low at the Evil Empire that no one bothers to read the posters? Or, perhaps, there was no one who could read on duty at the time? What has happened to the guys in works (who saved my arse more than once)? Oh, of course, they were retrenched in the endless staff redundancy drives…

I will admit that I am bitter. I am bitter because I came to newspapers just in time to glimpse the glory days before economic and commercial pressures snuffed out passion and professionalism. I am bitter because I have seen how once great titles — and, yes, once great journalists, unionists and activists — have been run into the ground and have lost their way. I am bitter because Irish bean counters have stripped the group that holds the nation’s conciousness in its grip as the publisher of 14 major titles. In fact, I am so bitter that I have fantasised that Koni Media will buy Independent instead of Johncom and, perhaps, turn that limping company around.

This week’s Sunday Times has reprinted a piece from The Times about calls by Irish telecoms billionaire Denis O’Brien for Sir Tony, the Irish owner of Independent News & Media, to step down:

Mr O’Brien, an unhappy 11 percent shareholder in Sir Anthony’s Independent News & Media, said Sir Anthony was too old to run a modern newspaper business, and that by leaving he would save millions of euros.

“The Independent has to go, as do other vanity projects,” Mr O’Brien told The Times in an uncompromising interview. “If he goes, and The Independent is sold, shareholders will save money. This is a company that is going nowhere.”

Dramatically escalating the row between the two Irish plutocrats, Mr O’Brien said that “Tony O’Reilly would be better off retiring and going off to sort out Waterford Wedgwood. It would be better if he spent time on an old economy business. His three sons should go too; he is running an old-style fiefdom.”

Look, I was working for the company with O’Reilly bought the Argus newspaper company — and its 12 titles — in March 1994, for a few million rand – with the approval of the ANC. [Read this fascinating account of the shifting media landscape in the mid-1990s, which has many of the same elements of current debates around media ownership.] And the fact remains that, in terms of return on investment, the South African operation outperforms any of O’Reilly’s other media investments.

Perhaps I am naive, but I always wonder why no one makes a fuss that ownership of the largest newspaper publisher in the country is in foreign hands. All profit from the company goes to Ireland.

PS: In 2005, MediaLens wrote an article titled A Special Kind of Independence. I think the author and I share quite a few viewpoints. She (or he) is almost as bitter as I am about Sir Anthony O’Reilly.

Filed under: Newspapers, , , , , ,

The mom’s song

My friend Corinna, who never forwards emails, finally caved when she came across this classic YouTube video (which, apparently, has been downloaded nearly 2-million a zillion times). Titled the ‘Mom Song’, Anita Renfroe has set all the things your mom said — and all the things you’re now saying to your children — to the William Tell Overture.

Here’s a copy of the lyrics, courtesy of Parenting Isn’t For Pansies:

William Tell Momisms
by Anita Renfroe
sung to the William Tell Overture
Get up now, get up now, get up out of bed,
Wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your sleepy head.
Here’s your clothes and your shoes, hear the words I said,
Get up now, get up and make your bed.

Are you hot, are you cold, are you wearing that?
Where’s your books and your lunch and your homework at?
Grab your coat and your gloves and your scarf and hat.
Don’t forget, you’ve gotta feed the cat.

Eat your breakfast, the experts tell us it’s the most important meal of all,
Take your vitamins so you will grow up one day to be big and tall.
Please remember the orthodontist will be seeing you at three today,
Don’t forget your piano lesson is this afternoon so you must play.

Don’t shovel, chew slowly, but hurry, the bus is here,
Be careful, come back here, did you wash behind your ears?
Play outside, don’t play rough, would you just play fair?
Be polite, make a friend, don’t forget to share,
Work it out, wait your turn, never take a dare,
Get along, don’t make me come down there.

Clean your room, fold your clothes, put your stuff away,
Make your bed, do it now, do we have all day?
Were you born in a barn? Would you like some hay?
Can you even hear a word I say?

Answer the phone, Get off the phone,
Don’t sit so close, turn it down, no texting at the table.
No more computer time tonight,
Your ipod’s my ipod if you don’t listen up.

Where you going and with whom and what time do you think you’re coming home?
Saying thank you, please, excuse me, makes you welcome everywhere you roam.
You’ll appreciate my wisdom someday when you’re older and you’re grown.
Can’t wait til you have a couple little children of your own.

You’ll thank me for the council I gave you so willingly,
But right now I thank you not to roll your eyes at me.
Close your mouth when you chew, we’d appreciate,
Take a bite, maybe two, of the stuff you hate.
Use your fork, do not burp or I’ll set you straight.
Eat the food I put upon your plate.

Get an A, get in the door, don’t be smart with me,
Get a grip, get in here or I’ll count to three,
Get a job, Get a life, get a PhD, get a dose of

I don’t care who started it,
You’re grounded until you’re 36,
Get your story straight and tell the truth for once for heaven sake.

And, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump to?
If I’ve said once I’ve said it at least a thousand times before,
That you’re too old to act this way,
It must be your father’s DNA.

Look at me when I am talking, stand up straighter when you walk.
A place for everything, and everything must be in place.
Stop crying or I’ll give you something real to cry about.
oh
Brush your teeth, wash your face, get your pj’s on.
Get in bed, get a hug, say a prayer with Mom.
Don’t forget I love you (kiss)

And tomorrow we will do this all again
because a Mom’s work never ends.
You don’t need the reason why,
Because, Because, Because, Because,
I said so, I said so, I said so, I said so.
I’m the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom!

Ta-Da!

Filed under: Motherhood, , ,

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