By Stuart Dickinson

Award-nominated podcast producer, journalist and WCJ alumnus, Lineo Leteba, returns to the Wits Centre for Journalism three years after graduating to take up the role of project assistant.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lineo back in this new chapter of her career,” says WCJ Director, Dinesh Balliah. “Her excellent organisational and interpersonal skills make her well-placed to help oversee some of the WCJ’s biggest projects and partnerships in CHARM Africa, UNESCO, the African Investigative Journalism Conference, and SANEF’s Fellowship in Financial Journalism”.

Working as part of the WCJ’s project outreach teams, Leteba will assist with donor relations, grant selection processes, connecting with grantees, and managing feedback across various project outcomes.

“I’ve only been here for a few months, but I’ve found the work incredibly rewarding so far,” says Leteba. “I sat through the process of evaluating grant proposals for UNESCO’s Strengthening Journalism Education in Africa project, and it was truly inspiring to see such willingness from journalism educators to contribute to the discussion of what excellence in education should mean, ensure they offer the best training possible to students, and the fresh ideas they had in making that possible. It was hard for us to only choose 10 recipients of the grant, but we’re looking forward to the next round.”

After graduating from the WCJ in 2019, Leteba joined True Love magazine as a digital media journalist just before the first wave of Covid hit.

“I’m very proud of a project we launched there called #TLTL – True Love Thursday Live, which became my baby,” she recalls. “South Africans, and especially South African media, went through a very difficult period during the Covid outbreak. Everyone felt isolated, readership was down, and the mood was generally bleak. We had a few brainstorming sessions as to how we could tackle this and make True Love more accessible to our demographic and a wider audience.”

With social distancing in place, the answer was found in social media.

“We transformed our typical written features into live interview broadcasts from platforms like Instagram, which turned out to be incredibly popular. As we developed the series, our viewership numbers increased and we would typically have over 7000 people join the livestream sessions. It’s a great feeling to have developed that,” says Leteba.

From there, Leteba joined the Mail and Guardian in 2020 as a marketing coordinator, and as she describes, “somehow stumbled into podcasting” and became a lead producer of an eight-part series called Ask Yourself, which launched on Youth Day in 2021.

Created in partnership with Ukuzibuza, a website established and curated by four high school students, the podcast series talked through the struggles of youth both past and present. Episodes included a discussion with #FeesMustFall activists Kanya Cekeshe and Motheo Brodie about how to start a revolution, talking to broadcaster Penny Lebyane about mental health for young people, as well as a chat with singer and songwriter Langa Mavuso about how music serves as a vessel into personal lived experiences and broader societal issues.

The series was a top three finalist in the Best Gen Z Initiative at the 2022 Africa Digital Media Awards.

“It was enlightening for me because through that practical experience, I started to see the shift between older, more traditional ways of consuming news and information, and how newer methods like podcasting and streaming could increase engagement with younger audiences.

“Those roles also involved organising and arranging many moving parts, as well as interacting with loads of different personalities and backgrounds; two skills I developed which I think will definitely serve me well in my new role here at the Centre,” says Leteba.

Adds Balliah, “Lineo is certainly a people person, and along with her process-oriented approach to efficiency, I have no doubt that she will go far in helping us create and nurture new partnerships across Africa in the media space.”