Bhekisisa is hiring a news editor. (Envato)

Do you have seven years or more experience in writing and editing evidence-based health and social justice analysis for the news media or publishing industry? Are you passionate about mentoring journalists and op-ed writers? Then this position might be just for you. Application deadline: 16 January 2022

The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism is looking for a news editor to help drive the centre’s news agenda, extensively edit stories, check the accuracy of copy, mentor full-time as well as freelance reporters, and help op-ed writers translate academic concepts into easy-to-understand news language. 

The mentoring and editing entail helping writers to develop stories based on peer-reviewed studies (the news editor therefore should be familiar with research methodology and local and international health policies), checking the accuracy of science and research quoted in articles and assisting reporters with developing social media and branding strategies around their work.

What does Bhekisisa do?

The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism specialises in solutions journalism aimed at policymakers in the fields of health and social justice in South Africa and abroad. What does that mean? We don’t only tell our audience about problems; we also critically evaluate what’s being done to fix them by combing through peer-reviewed studies and reporting on community projects to establish what works and what doesn’t. 

Our reporting includes science explainers as well as long-from narrative storytelling that showcases the stories of real people to help media consumers understand issues better and be a part of real change. 

All our stories include, often in addition to grassroots voices, references to credible research that informs policies. Most of our print stories, or parts thereof, are also repackaged into short video explainers, which require reporters to transform print language into broadcast language. Moreover, we work with policymakers, academics, scientists and activists to pen policy-related ideas and concepts into compelling op-eds suitable for a news audience. 

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Bhekisisa also hosts training workshops and regular webinars on health and social justice policy-related issues, as well as health and science journalism.

Where are Bhekisisa’s stories published?

The centre has a solid track record of producing impactful, award-winning reporting both locally and internationally. 

We publish our stories on our own website and also syndicate copy to major South African outlets such as News24, the Daily Maverick, Financial Mail and Mail & Guardian.

Bhekisisa reporters’ work has also appeared in international publications such as the UK’s Guardian and Spain’s El País. Additionally, our stories and events are also frequently referenced in science journals such as The Lancet and British Medical Journal

Lastly, our journalists are regularly invited to talk about their stories or provide health analysis on local and international radio and television stations or to be speakers on webinars.

How does Bhekisisa work and where does a news editor fit in?

We’re a small, donor-funded newsroom that doesn’t shy away from hard work that pushes us outside our comfort zones and allows us to grow and learn together. Our stories undergo extensive editing of between five and 12 hours per article, and in the case of freelancers and op-ed writers the process is often longer. 

The skill-sets of our journalists vary, depending on how long they’ve been mentored. Our senior journalists have an excellent understanding of research methodology, scientific concepts and their interviewing, branding and social media skills, as well as their access to scientists and policymakers, is highly developed. Our more junior journalists are still developing in these fields and require help with story ideas/angles and interpreting and finding studies.  

The news editor will be required to work with reporters on developing their stories, to check the accuracy of science and research used in articles and to help journalists integrate science and health/social justice policy in innovative ways that inform and potentially influence policies. Ideally, the news editor will also work with journalists to develop their story lines and literary-based storytelling skills in long-form narrative pieces. 

If you’re looking for a 9 to 5 job where you edit studies and research into accurate, predictable, news summaries, this job is not for you. But if you’re passionate about helping reporters and op-ed writers to develop news angles for stories that combine science and policy in meaningful, cutting edge ways, and if you enjoy translating science and policies into easy-to-understand language, then this might be the vacancy for you. 

The position is based at our Johannesburg office and includes opportunities for future growth in line with the candidate’s interest and performance track record. (If you dream it, we’ll try our darndest to make it happen).

Expected duties:

  1. Edit 8-10 analysis pieces per month
  2. Commission solutions-based stories and op-ed pieces that integrate science and health/social justice policy
  3. Mentor reporters and op-ed writers with the development of story ideas, storytelling skills and how to meaningfully integrate peer-reviewed or preprint studies into their stories
  4. Supervise and co-supervise editorial staff  
  5. Work with journalists to develop their understanding of research methodology, interpretation of studies and help them to develop their contact-base of potential experts or case studies to interview for articles
  6. Read independently to ensure that you’re up to date with the latest research developments as well as local and international conversations in the field of health and social justice
  7. Meaningfully contribute to developing Bhekisisa’s strategies in terms of content creation across platforms and media as well as sustainability initiatives such as training or related projects
  8. Assist journalists with developing social media and branding strategies for their work 
  9. Other duties as required

Expected qualifications:

  1. A demonstrated track record of at least seven years of evidence-based health and science journalism reporting and editing 
  2. A degree in journalism or a related field. An understanding of solutions journalism is desirable
  3. Excellent English editing and writing skills
  4. A well-developed understanding of research methodology and health/social justice policy
  5. Experience with long-form narrative or literary journalism will be an advantage
  6. An excellent eye for attention to detail and a passion for intensively mentoring journalists 
  7. A demonstrated track record of at least two years of middle-management experience
  8. Ability to work well as part of a team on a variety of tasks if needed
  9. Familiarity with content management systems, especially WordPress, is an advantage. Strong time management skills to ensure deadlines are met, as well as the ability to work with more than one reporter on stories at the same time are a must
  10. Familiarity with social media channels, especially Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  11. Familiarity with multimedia journalism, especially video, will be an advantage
  12. Legal permission to work in South Africa
  13. All shortlisted candidates will be expected to undergo a test before proceeding to the interview stage

To apply, please send the following materials to Bhekisisa’s programme manager, Rosaline Daniel ([email protected]) with the subject line “Application for News Editor”. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

  1. Updated CV with three contactable references; at least one should be familiar with your editing and management skills 
  2. Three examples of health/social justice stories that you have written and two examples of articles that you have edited. Ideally these samples should show some range in writing/editing e.g. news, analysis and features
  3. A cover letter detailing why you would like to work at Bhekisisa specifically. Cover letters of successful candidates will demonstrate an understanding of Bhekisisa’s unique brand of solutions-based, narrative journalism and analysis.

Application deadline: 16 January 2022, 10pm

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