Nothing 'pitter' about Patta

25 May 2010 - 00:27 By BONGIWE KHUMALO

Debora Patta is the face behind investigative journalism show 3rd Degree. The show, which recently turned 10, has exposed housing scams, police brutality and drug scandals, among others.

Patta has been called names and is often described as aggressive, but it doesn't seem to bother her much.

She shares how the show has influenced her character, how an episode is put together and how she handles criticism.

Q: Has 10 years of investigative journalism made your approach even more aggressive?

A: Not at all. I still use the same approach. There is an element of sexism at work here, because a woman is presenting the show. She's seen as aggressive, but if it were a man, people would say he was assertive. What is important is that people watch and take part in the show.

Q: Are you bothered by the fact that some people think you act as the devil's advocate?

A: It's OK. They can call me whatever they want, but if they are watching, that's all that matters. I do my job to the best of my ability. I don't take myself too seriously, because I don't behave like that with friends and family. I'm not the best and certainly not the worst journalist in the world.

Q: Are you part of any social networking site and do you read what people say about you?

A: 3rd Degree has a Facebook page and I also have a personal profile and blog every week. What's interesting is that there is a huge difference between viewers who are part of our Facebook community and the ones who interact with us on the blog.

Networking sites are a very important way of interacting with the viewers if used well. Sometimes I see what people say and sometimes I don't. Whether or not I engage, they still say it. I don't pay too much attention to it.

Q: How do you handle criticism?

A: At times, it's hard to hear but it is important. I take the good and the bad. We've survived 10 years in a tough industry. SA is the best place to be a journalist.

Q: Are you hands on or just the face of the show?

A: One of the reasons I battled to juggle being editor-in-chief of eNews and 3rd Degree was because I am very much involved with the show's production.

Sometimes I go with the production team to work on the story and sometimes I don't, but it is a brilliant team and it knows how to put a good story together. The team uses the research and we do some role play. It's quite a tight process. It took two weeks to research last week's interview with Bheki Cele.

Q: What are some of the show's highs and lows?

A: The low is the fact that I have to prove myself every week. I spend time with the darker side of humanity, seeing the suffering and the burdens that people carry daily and then I walk away to my comfortable life.

The high is the life-changing moments, whether they be material facts or a change in perception. It is always fulfilling.

Your favourite and least favourite interviews?

A: I hated the interview I did with Bob Geldof. He was obnoxious and grumpy. Thabo Mbeki was difficult to crack. The interview with Chinese-Australian former ballet dancer and current stockbroker Li Cunxin was remarkable. A classic was the interview with General Amos Masondo on the failure to provide training for MK veterans. Eugene Terre Blanche walked out on our interview. I thought that was funny.

  • '3rd Degree' is on on Tuesdays at 9.30pm.