From July 2021, the Union of Journalists of South Sudan – UJOSS, started featuring journalists, seeking to expose their tireless efforts as they work towards holistic societal change in the country.
UJOSS believes journalists in South Sudan are enduring some of the most difficult conditions and yet producing some of the most important works in the country, availing people the vitally needed information.
In this feature, we seek brief explanation from a journalist on who they are, why they choose journalism, their experiences, challenges they face, and their aspiration in the media landscape in South Sudan in the next five years.
Our first in the series is Liet Nyak Jock.
But first who is he?
Lieth Nyak Jock is a professional journalist who is currently working as an interim chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan in Unity state branch.
He was first elected in 2011 as the deputy chairperson of the union’s branch office in Unity State before the country slide into crisis in 2013, before taking on the interim chairpersonship.
He has been in the trade since independence, operating in Bentiu, Unity State. UJOSS’ Ruot George spoke to him about the career.
Question: Are you ok telling us briefly about your education history?
Answer: Yes, choosing the career of journalism is a long process. It was a process to be a professional journalist. For me to become a journalist, I got a diploma in journalism and media studies from Zetech University in Nairobi Kenya in 2018.
I’m currently pursuing my bachelors’ degree in Mass Communication at Kampala University. I also have specialized certificates in the same field. I completed high school education in Nairobi Kenya as an urban refugee. I also completed primary school in Kakuma refugee settlement in Turkana district, northeastern Kenya.
Qn: Why have you preferred journalism over other careers?
Ans: I developed interest to join the career of journalism because of very bad things I used to see during the struggle. Excellent reporting from international media about global issues also raised my passion for journalism. I started journalism career poet in 2005, and later shifted to journalism before completing my form four level. I started writing refugee stories, reporting for Kakuma News bulletin and Refugees Research network from 2006-2008 at secondary school after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
From the independence of South Sudan on July 9th 2011 to 2013, I worked for various public and private national and International media houses in both print and radio including the Citizen Newspaper, Internews network, as State bureau correspondent for Eye Radio and Naath FM in Unity state. I was transferred to Juba by the management of Internews after the crisis erupted in 2013 and re-deployed as a reporter, producer, news and program editor until 2015 when I resigned to pursue further studies.
After completing my diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication, I was employed by a national media institution called “The Radio Community (TRC),” running Outreach media projects in Leer as a News Team Leaders.
Currently, I am freelancing with Juba Echo, an online website that covers stories in South Sudan.
Qn: What is your biggest achievement since you joined the media industry in 2006?
Ans: I have covered many stories at the national and state levels. I have interviewed many veteran politicians in Unity state and at the national level including Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, and Joseph Nguen Monytuil, Ministers, civil society, diplomats and many dignitaries.
Qn: Do you have other achievements apart from the media?
Ans: I have not limited myself to the media fraternity only. I also worked for various international non-governmental organizations include UNHCR, Lutheran World Federation, MSF Holland and INTERSOS.
Qn: What challenges have you faced as a journalist in a fragile country like South Sudan?
Ans: I was nearly killed in January 2014 for telling a general that “our mandate as journalists in South Sudan is that we are neutral; and not taking side in the political crisis.” I have been arrested three times in Unity state while on duty. I was arrested on July 9 2013 when I was reporting live for Eye Radio and Naath FM at the Bentiu independence stadium.
Qn: Where do you see South Sudan Media in five years from now?
Ans: I want to see the media in South Sudan investigating and holding government accountable. Journalists should work freely, and press freedom should be protected under the law. The media is a pillar of the government that deserves respect from other organs of the government, especially the executive.