Khomotso Makgabutlane On Her Aspirations in Media

Passionate sport writer Khomotso Makgabutlane has ambitions of writing her own book based on her experience in the sport media industry.

At 26, Makgabutlane pens for community newspaper Fourways Review, as she enjoys watching a range of sporting codes.

Growing up, Makgabutlane played netball and football in primary school, and hockey in high school, however her love for the game was more on the sidelines as a writer.

With over three years of writing experience, Makgabutlane has seen the growth and effect of her work as she has previously been nominated for the Gauteng Women in Sports Awards in the Sports Journalist of the Year category and was placed in the Top Ten of the Forum of Community Journalism Awards for News and Sports Photography.

Recently Makgabutlane had the opportunity to attend a gsport Networking lunch where she was able to absorb all of the knowledge she could from experienced women in the sport media space.

Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Makgabutlane chats more about her journey and shares her hope for the growth of women in the sport media industry.


Hi Khomotso, it’s a pleasure chatting to you and thank you for your time. Please tell us about yourself and where you are from.

Honestly such an honour. I’m a 26-year-old journalist with a passion for sport. I’m a massive fan of cricket and hockey, but I enjoy watching a variety of sport. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, and I’m based in the area, too.


When and where did your love for sport begin and did you play?

I used to play hockey in high school, and netball and football in primary. I wasn’t the greatest sporting person, but I was just happy to be on the field even though I never made districts, provincial or national sides. My love for sport started young, but I started showing it in the form of reporting and commenting on social media when I was in undergrad at Varsity College. I started a cricket blog talking about cricket, local and international topics. While I don’t really write on it anymore (the blog), it’s still active.


Please tell us how you joined Fourways Review and why writing?

When I was in Honours in 2019, the year was coming to a close and I needed to get a job. Caxton Local Media, which houses Fourways Review and a number of other community papers, were looking for a new journalist for Fourways. I applied, and I was quite lucky that it was one of two jobs I applied for. While I had the experience from Honours at Wits in Journalism and Media Studies, I wasn’t able to complete my qualification. When at Wits, we were part of the campus newspaper, the Wits Vuvuzela. I learnt a lot there, and used my skills when I got accepted to work at Caxton. It’s been three years and some months ever since.


What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

Learning when I’m doing a lot and managing time has always been a struggle. It’s something I’m still learning to time manage better to this day. I also get very anxious, and it gets the better of me to a point that I don’t believe in myself. I’m blessed to have a great support system of friends, fellow journos, family and partner to help me keep on track, and to give me motivation I sometimes need.


What are some of your career highlights to date?

In 2022, I entered the Forum of Community Journalism Awards for my news and sports photography – a competition for community journalists throughout the country. I was named in the Top 10 for both categories, which was a big surprise. In the same year, last year October, someone had nominated me for the Gauteng Women in Sports Awards for the Johannesburg region for Sports Journalist of the Year. I didn’t win, but being nominated was still a HUGE achievement. I also got to meet a number of people in various fields, but the best person I got to meet was the golden lady herself: Caster Semenya!


What keeps you motivated?

That’s a tough question actually! I think, if anything, I just enjoy sport so much that I have a lot of fun when I report on things or have conversations on sporting topics. I think that’s what keeps me going, is just how at home I feel when covering different sporting stories/events. It’s something I know I’m good at and can hardly ever run out of steam to report on it.


Which sportswomen do you admire and why?

I’d definitely say Caster Semenya, Argentinian hockey player Majo Granatto, and former SA women cricketer, Mignon du Preez, are my favourites. But all women in sport are people I admire. People who are women in sport I love and watch is so refreshing, seeing them enjoy the sport and make their countries proud is always amazing to see.


When you look at your journey so far, what are some lessons you have taken away from being in the industry?

I’ve learned that taking initiative can get you more than you think you’d get. It can get you to places that enhance your growth as a person. I’ve also learned to be sure of myself and back my choices. Ask questions if you’re not sure even if it makes you seem silly – it’s better to know for sure than to assume.


What are your hopes for women in the sport media space in South Africa?

I hope it can grow for the sake of not just filling numbers. I want women in sport media to feel safe when doing the job that they love. That we don’t feel like we’ll be harassed or questioned of our talents and skills just because we’re women. That we won’t have to do 10x more just because we’re women. It’s making progress, but there’s always room for improvement.


What role do you think women in sport media should play as this is The Year of Women’s Sport?

We need to report and acknowledge the women who are doing amazing things in sport, or are up-and-coming in their field. With more and more media and advertising going to women’s sport, we need to continue giving coverage to the women who have worked for things to be where they are heading now. It’s further encouragement to the young girls in sport that it’s possible to make it onto the big stage and be paid and acknowledged like their male counterparts.


May is Africa month, do you think there is progress being made in terms of how women are accepted in sport on the continent?

I feel like there is growth throughout the continent in women in sport media which always great. Other countries may have more reservations to women being in a typically male-dominated field, but there is progress that sport reporting really has no gender. It’s about passion and love for sport and story-telling. The growth is definitely there, which is so awesome to see.


You had the opportunity to attend a gsport Networking lunch recently. For those who are looking to attend one of these events, how would you paint a picture of what you experienced?

It was honestly so amazing to attend an event like that. Meeting some of the women who are heavy hitters in sport reporting was such an awesome encounter. I was speechless for most of the event because I was taking in who was around me and what they had to say. Meeting Lonwabo Nkohla, Kate Nokwe, Hloni Mtimkulu and so many more was a moment not to forget. They taught me lessons I take with me onto my next sports reporting journey whatever it may be.


What’s your advice for success?

Have faith in yourself, and know where your shortcomings are. Have a great support system while still being able to hype yourself up. Work on yourself for the purpose of growth and not for the satisfaction of people who would tear you down or question your skill at every opportunity. Being anxious or nervous is normal – it makes you want to do better and keen to learn more. You’re never too experienced to learn something new and you can’t just assume things – asking questions is always good. But research making sure you know information is also always key – you never know when it can be a good conversation topic or angle.


What’s your greatest career ambition?

I thought about it recently, and above wanting to capture the moments of sport on the court, on the field or pitch, I want to maybe have a book out of my experiences. Like the people I’ve met, some photos I’ve taken that I absolutely love and just reliving moments in the career that have meant the most to me. I still see myself involved in sport, whether it’s writing, photography or just cheering on players and teams.


What’s your advice to women who aspire to take up sport media as a career?

Go for it! You’ve got to believe in yourself, but you most importantly have to really have a passion and dedication for sport. Not just the match reports, but engaging with players and organisations to find out about them and what stories they have to tell. It can be a tiring and busy career depending on which medium you go into: print, broadcast or digital. But at the end, it’s a career where you can really stand out and make a name for yourself. Be you, be original and be truthful! Most importantly: have fun! Because why be in a field you feel like you can’t have fun in.

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