Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This quote applies to 28 Year-Old Devina Haripersad. A journalist with a passion to dig up stories. She admits that it isn’t an easy road but to her being a journalist is love at its best. We’ve managed to catch up with Devina and her first love – Journalism.
1. How would you define yourself?
“From the most minute atoms within the greater molecules that makes up almost every fibre of my very being, I am, in every sense, a shameless journalist.”
2. Describe your family to me?
“My mother is a physically very beautiful woman who was much admired by the people around us, for all of my childhood. My dad is an ol’ school science/mathsy kid that grew up to be a mechanical genius. My brother is an amazing mix of both these aspects from both my parents. His wife, my sister-in-law, is the kind-hearted, down-to-earth friend that I’ve always wanted. And their son, my 4-month-old nephew, is the little light of all our lives.”
3. When did your passion for journalism start?
“My passion for journalism caught alight when I registered for my second degree at university and did a module called Writing For the Media 101. Our lecturer at the time was Dean Suttic and his section of the course was called New Journalism. Here we studied the works of Tom Wolf and Hunter S Thompson. Suttic’s love and excitement for the texts from these authors/gonzos was contagious and, terribly intrigued by this, I paid close attention when studying those readings. Suttic was right! Wolf and Thompson made Clark Kent look weak, and from then onwards, I knew I wanted to be all in for the glory of the story. The pursuit of truth seemed like such a noble cause and I was ready to sign up for the mission. On the other hand, I also really love writing. The act of communication is something so very sacred to the human race, that I’ve come to deeply appreciate even the tiniest of building blocks in art of language: sounds, phonics, alphabets, vowels. Amalgamate the pursuit of truth and the art of communication, and you have the concept of journalism. How could I not love this field of study?”
4. What do you love most about being a journalist?
“I love it when I get the community riled up about a certain issue. My favourite part of the day is opening up my ‘letters to the editor’ (also sometimes known as: hate mail) where people write in commenting on certain articles I’ve written that week. We don’t always give our communities enough credit when it comes to their thinking capabilities and intellectual capacity, and we tend to underestimate each other given our lowly commercial positions in life, but I can tell you that from the letters I received from even the most layman of folks, we have a very smart society. Their grammar may not always be up to scratch, and their spelling may be amiss here and there, but the points they bring to the table are so noteworthy! I love that being a journalist, I get to stir up this aspect of society.”
5. What has being your craziest experience as a journalist?
“During my time at DN, the story about two dead bodies being found at an exclusive shopping mall came to the fore and both myself and a colleague were commissioned to investigate that story. What started out as a simple murder investigation, turned into the uncovering of a dangerous underworld of gangs and their warfare, and I realised what was once my happy-place that sold Guess handbags and cinnabons in brightly lit stores, was actually an enslaving institution for the poverty stricken community on the other side of its high walls. To keep up its electric buzz, this institution employed the poorest of the poor, paid them minimum wage and made them work very hard till the very late hours of the night. These people would end up having to walk home at these late hours, and that was when they were attacked by pickpocketing gangs who would steal their day’s takings from them. We discovered that the bodies found were two younger gang members who were slain by members of another gang, for looting from workers that were on their hit-list. We found the pathway used by the gangs and the workers that linked the massive mall to the informal settlements, and before we knew it, my colleague and I were slap bang in middle of one of the gang’s lairs, privy to plans that were being made for a revenge attack to take place that Friday in the mall itself. It was scary and crazy and definitely like something out of the movies; like a scene from Dirty Pretty Things. It made me realise that nothing is as it seems in this world. I’ve never been able to enjoy cinnabons in the same way ever again.”
7. What’s been the biggest story you’ve ever worked on?
“I would have to say the Lotter Trial. During this case, there was an international focus on an ordinary guy from Phoenix who was said to have masterminded the murder of two well-placed white folk from Westville, by brainwashing their children, convincing them to slay their parents in the most brutal way possible. At first, it all seemed so far-fetched and fantastical but as the trial progressed, a twisted tale was brought to the fore and I found myself becoming so emotionally involved in it. There was such an openness in the High Court during that time, that I was able to interact on a one-on-one basis with the three accused, conducting interviews and taking down notes, so much so, that the story actually become very personal to me. I still sometimes mull over the different dimensions that trial took when left to myself for too long.”
8. What are the pros and cons of being a journalist?
9. Describe to us a typical day of a journalist…
“Every single day in the life of a journalist is different, and there are never really two days that are the same. You can start the day knee-deep in mud at an informal settlement, reporting on a flooding river near by, and end the day, you will be rubbing shoulders with the most polished of billionaires at a high-end function, sipping red merlot at a 5-star hotel venue.”
10. What advise will you give to budding journalists out there?
“Read read read! Many of the young interns who pass through our newsrooms are lost to the great culture of reading these days and they are the poorer for it.”
– As Cyril Ramaphosa said: ‘No one wants to read anymore. They want to learn through rumour.’
A little More About Devina…
1. Your favourite colour is?
2. Is crying to you, a sign of weakness or strength?
- “Definitely a weakness. (I cry all the time…)”
3. Who is your role model?
- “I’m low on role models these day.”
4. My hobbies are…
- “Reading extensively, beaching, food”
5. Choose 1: I rather get stung 10 times by a Jellyfish or Jump into a pool of sharks?
- “Pool of sharks. Its no different to daily journo-life”