Slice of Life: ‘We’re told to be cold’

I was working on a story on male corrective rape and, during that time, I had this recurring dream. In the dream I was in a taxi by myself. I’d see the taxi driver looking at me weirdly. I’d stare out the window and see other taxi drivers. It was scary because, if I opened the taxi door, they would come in. But if I stayed in that taxi, I would also be raped. Either way, I was fucked.

I’ve never really spoken to anybody about this, especially at the time I was writing the story, because you don’t want to seem overly affected by things. Especially as a journalist, I just felt as though saying I was affected by it would undermine what I was trying to expose.

Once I saw this lifeless woman on a pavement. This man had bludgeoned her to death and her brains were, like, oozing out into the drain. I remember the response from my editors. How, you know, “you’re being emotional about it”.

I think that has always stuck with me — not to show that I am affected by these stories because the newsroom [has] a culture that has filtered down through all these decades — that you kind of need to be cold under the guise of being “objective”. It’s a terrible culture because we do stories to expose social ills. And how do you really change things if that kind of culture filters through to the newsroom, dictating the way you work? It makes what you are trying to do as a journalist kind of superficial, I think. — Angelo Louw, 31, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the M&G

Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa
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