And just like that, 2018 is over and you are now holding the last copy of the GO! & Express to come out until January.
A lot has happened since I first got here and for my last column this year, I want to look back and remember some of the more notable stories I personally covered. These stories might not all be the most ground-breaking, but each one has stood out for me – in one way or another.
Let’s start off with the Imonti Modern book launch. There are two reasons for this. For one, it was the first story I ever actually covered for the GO! & Express (ie attended, took notes and photos, etc). Second, I’m a bit of a history nerd and local history in particular is fascinating to me. I even went out and bought the book a few weeks later. Reading up about East London’s rich history really opened my eyes and helped me view the city from a fresh perspective. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
June’s story is definitely the attack on a bystander by protesters in Buffalo Flats. It was a harrowing story, after all – an innocent driver and their passenger were ambushed by a gang of angry men who proceeded to threaten them and smash up the car while he was still inside. It was only because one of the attackers eventually gave up and ordered the others to stop that the pair were able to get away. On a more cynical note, it was also the first of my stories to ever go viral, becoming one of the most read and shared articles on the website.
The SA Cake Guild’s Cake Decorator’s Show. There’s nothing deep here, I just really like cake and these ones were works of art. I still count the pictures as some of my all-time favourites.
While not technically a story, the picture of the Emerald Vale cat perched atop a fence published on August 16, still turned out pretty interesting in the end. Shortly after that edition came out, I received a phone call from an elderly lady who claimed to be the cat’s original owner. According to her, she’d put the cat up for adoption and had not heard anything about it since. She recognised the cat as soon as she saw the picture and insisted on thanking me for letting her know her friend was alright. This is still the best response I’ve ever gotten received to something I’ve published and whenever I’m feeling down, I just think of that woman and how happy I was able to make her with a simple photograph.
There were some pretty good stories this month but after some thinking, I have to give it to the Legends Modelling exhibition. The exhibition was the first one ever for local E Daniel Modelling Agency (EDMA) and being able to witness it first-hand was certainly a privilege. The clothes themselves were stunning and I hope EDMA has found some measure of success since then.
In another first, this month saw me publish my first message from the editor column which has gone on to become a regular feature. My first column started off humbly enough – a pretty basic 250-word write-up about the latest fuel price hike. Since then, they’ve only grown in size – this one, for example, looks set to clock in at over 800 words – and I’ve broadened my focus to tackle a whole range of different subjects. Still, it’s always fun to look back and see how much you’ve progressed.
Tying in with May’s story, this month goes to the Historic Grand Prix. This was easily one of the biggest events for East London in the entire year. People from all over the world came to celebrate the anniversary of the first ever Grand Prix event in Southern Africa. Part of the anniversary was a display of classical cars from a number of different historical periods which included the famous Maserati 8CM driven by Whitney Straight when he won the inaugural Grand Prix in 1934. It was an important event both culturally and economically for the city and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.
Our final story highlight of the year goes to (drum roll please) . . .. McLaren Circus! Was there any doubt? I honestly never expected this one to blow up as big as it did but I guess I grossly underestimated the passion this circus generates in people. Writing the article was easy enough. Both sides co-operated willingly and were polite.
The backlash, though, was something truly special. I’d say about 99% of our articles have zero comments on the website, with the remaining 1% only having one (more often than not, spam). This article had four comments before the day was over and six more waiting for moderation next morning. Facebook saw even more action with over 200 clicks at the time of writing. I have been insulted on both a personal and professional level, the paper has had its reputation called into question, and one particular individual (whose name is known) even threatened to come down and “visit” me in person. I’d like to remind you this was all over a circus act.
Anyway, those were my notable stories of the year. I’m sure you all had yours that struck a nerve and stuck with you after you had put the paper down. Hopefully, the new year will see us continue to work hard and provide the quality journalism you’ve come to expect from the GO! & Express. Until then, have a wonderful holiday.