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2017 Rising Stars Awards: we catch up with 2016 winner Mieke Vlok

Mieke Vlok is a journalist at Media24 Weekly Magazines in South Africa, where she writes for Afrikaans language Huisgenoot, the country’s biggest selling magazine. She was one of the FIPP and UPM Rising Stars in Global Media Award winners in 2016 (entries for 2017 are open until Friday 16 June) and tells us here what she’s been up to since then, the things that excite her in media today, and more.

FIPP and UPM’s Rising Stars in Global Media Awards celebrate exceptional young talent within the international media industry, in any discipline. Read more about who can enter the 2017 Awards, and how to enter, here (it’s free!). The top three winners will be invited to speak at the 41st FIPP World Congress, taking place from 9-11 October in London, the UK. Entries close on Friday 16 June.

Mieke Vlok ()

Mieke still works as a journalist at Huisgenoot, focusing on consumer issues and current affairs – although, she says, she “tends to write a bit about everything”. Mieke also studies law part time, due to complete in 2018. 

What are you doing now? 

While the type of news stories I cover has remained more or less the same (as in 2016), I have learned a lot in the year that has passed since I got to know the team at FIPP and attended FIPP London. South Africa is going through some very interesting but trying times, which has a direct impact on the way journalists do their jobs. 

How is business going? 

It is no secret that the industry as a whole is facing immense pressure. The transition from print to digital has been daunting to many outlets and consumers’ budgets are shrinking. Despite this publications like Huisgenoot and the rest of our colleagues at Media24 – the company that owns Huisgenoot – are working really hard to innovate and stay ahead of what consumers want. We have significantly upped our digital offering and are reaping the rewards.

The biggest media changes in your view in the past year? 

While the media has always been held accountable for what it does, I feel like the U.S. presidential election brought a new wave of scrutiny towards the industry. In an era of fake news, outlets need to be very cautious and responsible regarding the information they disseminate.

What trends excite you most in your area of work? 

Diversity: While the media still has a long way to go, I feel like it is becoming more inclusive by the day. Newsrooms are filled with people from all walks of life and backgrounds, which I think is great. The more varying perspectives you have, the more diversified your solutions will be.

Real-time storytelling: I am very excited that journalists are using features like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to document the news they are covering in real time. It gives a whole different level of experience to viewers when they can see events unfold for themselves.

VR: It hasn’t properly hit South Africa yet, but virtual reality (VR) is extremely exciting. Through VR someone who would never have had the opportunity to experience a place, event or people can have a really authentic taste of what it is like.


Any concerns? 

Many media outlets are still dependent on advertising income, which is steadily declining. I think most role-players in the industry are feeling the pinch because we need to find alternate revenue streams to fill the gap advertising used to fill. Advertisers are just not buying the way they used to. 

With social networks becoming news sources in their own right, traditional media outlets are under pressure to compete with a story unfolding on Facebook or Twitter or to give people news about an event or person when people can easily find the news themselves by following the person or event online. This is a tricky thing to navigate.

Who are people you admire most in media and/or related industries? 

I am a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO. I think it is great that she actively campaigns for better representation of women in many industries and her book, Lean In, really helped open up the discussion about women in the workplace. 

I also like the work Emma Sadleir is doing. She is a local lawyer who specialises in social media law. She does great work educating children, businesses and regular consumers on media law and how to safely and effectively navigate social media and issues like online defamation and privacy.

Your advice to others starting to make their mark in media? 

Embrace even the most menial of tasks and don’t say no to anything, since everything can be a learning curve and expose you to something or someone worth knowing.

Don’t be afraid to ask or put yourself out there. If someone is doing something that interests you, send them an email asking for advice. If you need help with something, reach out to someone with the skills. You will be surprised how nice people and willing to help people are.

Why would you encourage them to enter Rising Stars?

The FIPP conference (that winners get to attend) is a highlight on many industry professionals’ calendars. For a twenty-something person to have the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the field who have years of experience, is a really big privilege. 

You will also meet people who are great at what they do and really friendly and interesting on top of that. The networking opportunities and chance to meet people from all over the world with a shared love of magazine journalism is fantastic.

• Watch the 2016 video interview with Mieke here.


About FIPP and UPM’s Rising Stars in Global Media Awards

Launched in 2015, FIPP and UPM’s Rising Stars in Global Media Awards celebrate exceptional young talent within the international media industry, in any discipline. 

Read more about who can enter the 2017 Awards, and how to enter (it’s free), here. Entries close on Friday 16 June. The top three winners will be invited to speak at the 41st FIPP World Congress, taking place from 9-11 October in London, the UK.

• See the 2016 winners and finalists here

• See the 2015 winners and finalists here

More like this

Rising Stars Awards 2017: former winners on why you should enter

Business Insider’s Breton Fischetti on why you should enter FIPP’s Rising Stars in Global Media Awards

Rising global media stars on things that excite them in media today

How a 2015 FIPP Rising Stars award winner continues to make her mark

Being a Rising Media Star: Advice to others starting to make their mark

Rising Star Awards: We speak to Town & Country’s Laura Wilson, a winner in 2015

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