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OPINION: Corruption’s Chokehold: Rebuilding South Africa’s Stolen Dreams

As we stand on the precipice of a daunting future, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) mourns the tragic collapse of the South African stat...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Jane Surtees: A car is essentially a mode of transport for me, not a status symbol

Discover what's so special about the Magazine Girl!
Buchule Raba talks with the newspaper girl Jane Surtees...

1. where did you grow up? All over the Europe but mostly UK.

2. Your love for magazine? Essentially I am a newspaper girl, but old age and children have made my life more sedate and suited to something that doesn’t involve daily deadlines. Having said that, I think there are some great magazines in SA – better, dare I say, than newspapers.

Your mentor? A crusty old Scottish newspaper editor called Alistair Bissett. We made friends over late deadlines and copious amounts of whisky.

4. When did you start working for discovery? what position then? any other publications? I have been working for Discovery for a couple of years. I also work on publications for Samsung and Prudential – and anything else my dear publisher chooses to throw at me.

5. Your first kiss?

A very long time ago and, due to adolescent fumbling, not really memorable. Current partner much better:)

6. What car do you drive/wish to drive? I drive a VW Polo – a bit dull I know, but a car is essentially a mode of transport for me, not a status symbol.

7. What's your motto? Like life, it changes all the time. But right now I would say: Be kind and don’t take myself too seriously.

8. How long have you been in the industry? Too long - over 20 years. Although I did have a break for a few years in which I qualified and worked as a social worker – if you can call that a break.

9. Your role at discovery? I am managing editor of Discovery.

10. Where did u go high school? I went to a very dull, traditional school until 16 in an English town called Salisbury and then did my final two years at a college in Oxford, which was fantastic. And back to my home town, Edinburgh, for university.

11. What is important about magazine writing?
 The usual – be entertaining, accurate and informative. Also, know your market and remember you are writing for them, not you. But I think one of the main ingredients I look for is humour, which is rare and very difficult to write.

12. What is your advice on future journalists? I never like giving advice – very arrogant somehow – but if I have to recommend something it would be: If you want to write well, you should read well.

13. Are you looking at retirement at any age? Great ideal, but the harsh reality of monthly bills dictates - so not in the near future.

14. Your favourite colour? Grey – in all its glorious shades.

15. Food: like and dislike? I love food – especially all the stuff you shouldn’t eat like French cheeses and Belgium chocolate. Dislikes – the healthy stuff like vegetables and sushi. 

16. what is your political view of South Africa? A tough question and one that cannot really be answered here. What I’ll say is that I arrived in South Africa in the early 90’s - a great time when the nation was abuzz with Mandela fever and incredible optimism. Realistically, such momentum could not be sustained. Overall, I think the country has moved in a positive direction, however, I cannot deny that there are some disturbing, retrogressive elements. These are not unique to SA, but it does not excuse them either. A good constitution is not enough; we need to be vigilant and question our representatives – that’s what our politicians are supposed to be. But, removing my cynical cloak for a moment, I am hopeful that there are enough South Africans who are genuinely committed to making this country work.

17. Do you believe in BEE? Is it working? Eish – all this politics is going to get me into trouble. goes: I understand the why of BEE but no – I believe in merit. Dumbing down a nation by promoting people unqualified to do the job (which occurs often, but let me stress not always, from this practice) does not create the basis for a strong economy, which we need for education, employment, etc, etc. I think BEE has made life incredibly difficult for small businesses in particular. Is it working? For a very small minority maybe.
Politically, I understand why we have it, however, in an ideal world such matters would not be racially based. Is this nation mature enough to move beyond political correctness? We’ll see.

18. Where should our government invest? e.g. Education. Our needs list is long but yes, education is essential. I think it’s worth pointing out that we need a country that is worth investing in. I know it’s not very PC, but I believe we should look beyond our boundaries and not be so parochial about our future. Yes it’s great to be African, but there’s a whole big world of experience and opportunity out there. Let’s use it to create the country we want.

19. Do you think the notion of service delivery by political parties is used as propaganda? I think all politicians, SA or otherwise, use propaganda and spin to create the illusion of service delivery. It’s part of the game. But at some point, something actually has to be delivered.

Thanks to Jane for the amount of time.

Buchule Raba|Independent Journalist|Producer|Publicist / leave your comments for me below the comment box or send them via email to editor@goxtranews.comClick here to follow me on twitter or add me on Facebook here

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