“Journalism is the first rough draft of history” – Philip L. Graham

Daniel Steyn


Film & Media

Organisation / Company

GroundUp News


Daniel Steyn was one of the journalists at GroundUp who broke the Thabo Bester story in 2023 that sent ripples through the nation, and which continues to top headlines in South Africa today. At 27, Daniel has already co-authored a book, titled The Thabo Bester Story, and consulted on a Showmax Original docu-series called Tracking Thabo Bester. Daniel is working on his second book at the moment. His academic background in film and television studies has also given him the opportunity to direct two episodes of the Showmax Original docu-series The Illuminated, which explores alternative and often controversial religious movements in South Africa. Daniel gets his thrill and motivation from investigating issues in South Africa that expose how the decisions made by powerful people affect the most vulnerable, and uncovering truths that result in holding powerful figures accountable for their actions “The reason I got into journalism in the first place wasn’t to be recognised, to be famous or rich, it was to tell stories and to hold powerful people to account,” he says. When the going gets tough in the creative field, Daniel reminds himself that it’s important to take constructive criticism in your stride instead of letting it hold you back.


Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television Studies (Honours), University of Cape Town
Bachelor of Arts in Motion Picture Medium, specialising in Film Directing and Writing, AFDA


Breaking the Thabo Bester story has been the highlight of my career. The months of us following and exposing Bester’s escape from prison were a whirlwind. In 2023, we broke the story, authored a book, and consulted on a documentary. It was an exhilarating time.

I was incredibly fortunate to be part of this project, and the doors it has opened up for me in my career have been truly amazing.

I learnt a lot about investigative journalism, the daily choices one makes that impact a story – from the questions you ask sources and the places you look for information, to what you decide to put in the article and what you decide to leave out. The tone, language use, and timing of the article, are all important.

I also learned that chasing after what seems like glamour and fame is not worth it. The reason I got into journalism in the first place wasn’t to be recognised, to be famous or rich, it was to tell impactful stories and to hold powerful people to account.


Eusebius McKaiser inspired me to enter the scary world of South African media – especially with the joy he shared in analysing politics and philosophy.
Dr Hermann Reuter, a hero of the HIV treatment action campaign, remains one of my personal heroes, not least for his unwavering dedication to social justice and fighting for what is right.