A Day in the Life of an Investigative Researcher

investigative researcher

Jean-Emile Jammine: Investigative Researcher

Jean-Emile Jammine has been working as one of Carte Blanche’s investigative researchers since the beginning of 2015. With a thirst for justice and finding the truth, Jean’s research helps bring important and often controversial stories to light. During his short visit to Cape Town, EduConnect grabs the opportunity to chat to Jean and find out what investigative research and a career with Carte Blanche is all about.

What’s a typical day in the life of Carte Blanche Investigative Researcher?

Time of Day Activity Comments
07:00h Wake up
08:00h Get to the office and start working. I tend to go with what I feel needs to be done. I don’t have a set routine of what I work on, apart from weekly meetings, etc. No day is the same. I’m not always in the office.
13:00h Grab some lunch You can take your lunch break at any time (sometimes I have lunch at 17:00h)
18:00h Wrap up at work and bring closure to everything I worked on that day You generally work until you feel you have done enough…which is probably the next day. It’s different every day, and working after hours is normal 😉
18h30h Gym every day, produce music, and work on another show I’m involved with a lot of things!
01:00h Go to bed It’s a very bad habit that I have to go to bed quite late. I need to work on that.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
You get to affect change. It’s something you can use to actually help people get their message across. And you can make more of a difference than with most other careers, I’d say.

What do you enjoy least about it?
It doesn’t pay immensely well. It’s only been my first year, so it’s more like an internship phase. It’s set to rise like any kind of salary. But quite honestly, the perks of this job give you what a salary at another job might give you – travelling, meeting the most interesting people, hearing the most unbelievable stories, and just networking on a level which normally you wouldn’t manage to do.

Do you need a specific qualification to do this job?
You do need a qualification, but specifically what kind of a qualification is subjective to your employer. I studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Wits and UCT. I was not qualified as a journalist, and that’s probably what got me the job because I wasn’t competing with a pool of the same kind of thinkers.

How did you end up at Carte Blanche?
I knew someone who worked there. I liked the show and what it stood for and just made myself available from the age of 10, and also did job shadowing there in Matric. I guess over the years I had stuck my foot into the door of the company and just made myself available for selection. I made them know that I wanted to be there. I made my presence known, and they knew who I was and where I was coming from. And it was all very natural. I can’t say it was a conscious effort.

Does Carte Blanche provide any training when you come on board?
A lot. Consistently. It is a baptism of fire, especially if you haven’t studied journalism before. I mean, I was catching up on about a 4-year degree with no experience on how to communicate or approach people, and actually get a story. They train you on a wide spectrum of skills ranging from social media to hazardous situations at the workplace. It’s very good.

What is the earning potential or starting salary for someone in this field of work?
It’s much of a muchness. As a researcher you get a salary if you are employed full-time by a company. Most producers, however are freelancers, and that’s where the money is actually to be had.As a researcher, I get paid according to the amount of air time the story gets. In this industry in general, you can get anything from R 8000 a month to R100 000 for a story.

What kind of person would be well-suited for a job in investigative research?
Firstly, a person who loves to know. It might sound very obvious, but you have to have a real thirst for putting your finger in every pie of knowledge and really investing in the overall scheme of things.

This job requires a bit of humility. You really have to put other people’s needs ahead of yours and you really have to want to get that story out. You have to want justice. Justice is the truth… and some of the truths are quite delicate. But it is immensely rewarding line of work.

Do you have any other advice for someone who wants to pursue this career?
In terms of getting into the field, to a large extent it is who you know, but you have to make the most of who you know. You have to network properly. It’s hard-graft. It’s not glamorous. You always have to be aware. It never switches off – always be awake to information. Make sure you know as much as possible.

This might sound a touch arrogant, but you also need to be one hell of a lot sure about who you are as a person before you go out into the field, before you approach people, before you confront people. You will be confronting people who really have an agenda and who often want to hide things. They often want to promote things which really don’t need promoting.

You have to be completely sure of yourself as a person before you embark on such a career path. Remember that some stories you tell have huge implications and consequences on people’s lives. At the same time, you need to be able to dislocate yourself from the story. You are just the medium that people need for that truth to be exposed. It is not like front-line news, though. That’s very different. Investigative reporting, investigative print journalism, investigative photography… completely different.

If someone wants to find out more about this career, who else is a good person to talk to?
Just put your foot in the door of journalism. Try to work with the editors of newspapers, or the editors of Mnet. Put yourself in the frame. That will help you.

With Carte Blanche, it’s not as easy, because it’s quite a tight-knit group. I was lucky that I knew someone. There is a fierce competition out there. But you can contact the channel much in the same way that you would introduce a story, and tell them that you are interested in job shadowing.

Any quirky pearls of wisdom?
Be true to yourself. Don’t take things too personally. And the most important thing is balance. Just be balanced. And be busy, because you are most productive when you are busy – with different things. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you will drain yourself.

EduConnect 2cents

As Jean points out, it all comes down to getting your foot in the door, and making your presence known. Early exposure is worth a lot, and gives you  a much better understanding of the career you are trying to pursue. Start job shadowing at a young age, do summer internships, build your creative portfolio, and get your name out there. The job market can be a hardcore competition, and we urge you to get a head-start with early exposure, participation and experience.

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