Lesley Cowling

Associate Professor and Master’s in Journalism coordinator

Lesley Cowling is an Associate Professor and Masters’ Coordinator in the Wits Journalism programme, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on the relationship of media to South African public life, with a particular focus on journalism forms such as long-form reporting, opinion, analysis and debate, and their role in creating publics. A related interest is in the ways the commercial features of the media intersect with the public interest role allotted to them in society. She has a PhD from Rhodes University.

Lesley has worked as a journalist, a soap opera writer and a media consultant. She has more than 20 years experience in writing, editing, and design for publications in both South Africa and the United States. She has been science editor at the Mail & Guardian, assistant editor on the Sunday Times magazine, and a sub-editor at SABC Radio News and the Mail &

Lesley Cowling has also worked as a journalism trainer, developing training programmes in South Africa and Africa, and ran the Weekly Mail training project for entry-level journalists in the 1990s. She has always maintained an interest in creative writing, after completing an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism at Ohio University in 1992, and has taught courses in various writing forms since 1990. She has worked as a story-liner and episode writer for the long-running South African soap opera, Isidingo, and contributed to other television

PhD (Journalism and Media Studies) Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 2015
MA English/Journalism, Ohio University, Athens OH, 1992
Honours (Comparative Literature), Wits University, Johannesburg, 1983
BA (Literature), Wits University, Johannesburg, 1982

2017 Understanding the “Sowetans”: journalism as a product of organisational culture.
African Journalism Studies, vol. 38, no.1.
2016 Echoes of an African Drum: The Lost Literary Journalism of 1950s South Africa.
Literary Journalism Studies, vol. 8, no. 1.
2014 Building a nation: The Sowetan and the creation of a black public.
Journal of Southern African Studies, vol. 40, no. 2.
2012 With Carolyn Hamilton. The Public Life of Reason. In Creary, N. (ed)
African Intellectuals and Decolonisation. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
2011 With Carolyn Hamilton. Producing media debate: Journalistic practice and public
discussion. Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, vol. 32, no. 3.
2010 Framing essay: The media and the production of public debate.
Social Dynamics, vol. 36, no. 1, 78–84
2010 With Carolyn Hamilton. Thinking aloud/allowed: pursuing the public interest in radio
debate. Social Dynamics, vol. 36, no. 1. 85–98
2008 With Carolyn Hamilton. Whose public is it anyway? The Media, October 2008.
2008 With Adrian Hadland & Felix Tabi Tabe. The Third Arm: New forms of “paid-for
content” in the South African print media and the implications for journalism practice.
Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies.
2007 The SABC and the ‘blacklist’ controversy: Debate about debate.
Rhodes Journalism Review, 27, 62
2007 With Adrian Hadland & Felix Tabi Tabe. Advertising in the News: Paid-For Content
and the South African Print Media. Cape Town: HSRC Press. Research monograph.
2005 The Beloved South African: Alan Paton in America.”
Scrutiny2, 10, 2, pp.81-92.
2004 The rising sense of unease. Rhodes Journalism Review, September 2004.
Research projects:
South African media histories (info to come)
Media and public debate (link to Media and Public Debate page)
Advertising and news media (page to be edited)

Email: Lesley.Cowling@wits.ac.za
Twitter: @vanillacaramel