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7 Dec

The People’s Journalist; Michelle Craig On Family & Community!

Michelle Craig is no stranger to the South African television audience. As the anchor of the AM Report on Newzroom Afrika, she is on our television screens bright and early with the latest updates on current affairs as well as burning local and global matters. 

The journalist, news anchor, wife and mother of two uncovered her love for the media world while working as an intern for The Cape Argus in the early 2000s. Initially, she was accepted to study law at UCT. However, the course did not excite her and she realised it was not for her. She then applied for Journalism at Rhodes University. 

“So I finished my degree at Rhodes in 2005 and then in 2006, I got a job as a video editor. I really just wanted a way to move to Joburg,” she said. 

Throughout her 16-year long career, Craig has worked for various media outlets including Carte Blanche, Summit TV (now known as Business Day TV), eNCA as well as Newzroom Afrika. 

Her career highlights include covering the passing of the late Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

“In the build-up towards Winnie Madikizela’s passing, we were at her house when she was sick. In preparation, you obviously had to read her biography which is simply phenomenal. I would highly recommend it”. 

Some of the challenges she has encountered in her career include covering monumental events where she felt very unsafe as a female journalist. 

“For example, when we were covering the Marikana massacre, I went there with a camerawoman and we could tell we were not safe. You are not safe as a woman journalist out on the field. You need to be very circumspect about where your position is going to be”. 

She also added that stories which continue to touch her on a daily basis are the everyday stories which highlight the cracks in our society and the injustices in our democracy. Exposing and fighting issues such as corruption and gender-based violence is very close to her heart. Michelle is very passionate about the betterment of humanity and you get this even in small encounters with her. Her heart is firmly rooted at social change no matter how small and often times, she feels helpless on the societal changes she could bring about.

As a proud mother to two amazing boys, Craig expressed that although motherhood is a beautiful journey, it is also not a walk in the park and has shaped her as an evolving being.

“I feel like having children made me a better journalist. It made me a better person. It made me more confident about my boundaries because there are certain things that I just don’t do because of my children. Your children watch every move you make”. 

More than anything, she and her husband strive to give their children a healthy upbringing in order for them to become adults that contribute positively to society. 

“They are very kind children. They worry about other people’s well-being. We talk a lot about bullying in schools because that’s such a big fear of mine. So we try to tell them that it’s not just about them not falling victim to bullying. But it’s also about protecting others. If you see something happening, you must also speak for other people. And I see them doing it.”

Although she is the face which millions of South Africans wake up to each day, Craig remains a very private individual.

“For example, my Instagram is set to private and the only people I have on my Instagram are my friends and family. I don’t even have acquaintances. It’s very tightly controlled because I’m using my Instagram to document the journey of my children. I also don’t post a lot of things about my husband because it’s private.”

The  journalist and mother of two has been married for over a decade. In that period, she has learnt the importance of communication and intentionality in relationships. 

“We’ve been together for 16 years and married for 12. We met in Johannesburg but we’re both from Cape Town. I will say without a doubt that marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done. It really takes being intentional about how you want your relationship to be”. 

She also added that she views marriage as worthwhile and that it is something she highly recommends as nothing beats building a life with the one you love. For those planning to get married, she advises embracing uncomfortable conversations sooner rather than later. 

“Ask your partner about their views on politics and religion, on raising children and on how they see the world. Then you can go into it with your eyes wide open,” she said. 

For Craig, it is important to find your tribe and love them hard. After all, life is not meant to be a solitary journey.

“Community takes on different forms. It’s the people who know you in your work setting or in your industry. That’s a separate community to a different circle of friends. But they all nourish me in different ways and I also contribute in different ways.”

Another important aspect of her life is spirituality. Since she was raised in a Christian home and given a strong spiritual foundation, she aims to provide the same for her boys. 

“My spirituality is very important to me. However, it’s less about going to church and more about my own connection to God.

So in that quiet time right after I’ve woken up, I just take a moment to pray and be thankful. It’s very important to me and I want it to be very important to my children as well. We pray together every night as a family.”

When not working, she enjoys a little violence at the gym – (she does intense training) daily. She can also be seen out and about with her family at markets.

Craig can be found baking something yummy in her kitchen, binging on an exciting Netflix series or simply curled up under a good book

“I am currently reading A little life by Hanya Yanagihara. It is a beautifully written book and was recommended to me by a friend of mine from varsity”. 

Her favourite book of all time is The River Nile which she read for the first time when she was a teenager. 

“It’s about Egyptian Mythology and I just love it,” she said. 

Community is important to her, she grew up in a warm home in Cape Town with one brother and a younger sister.

As she continues to grow and evolve in her craft. Craig looks forward to stretching her potential even further and soaring the skies of the media world. She is also not opposed to the idea of being on an international platform. 

“I would love to work for a public broadcaster at some stage. I never have. As far as international news is concerned, I feel like Al Jezeera is leading the pack. And then CNN is always there. We all want to work for CNN,” she added.

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