Chantel Erfort is editor-in-chief of Cape Community Newspapers which disseminates hyperlocal news via free community newspapers and websites. Her passion is story-telling and how sharing stories can help bring about change. She also runs a blog,, through which she uses her story to inspire others to live more healthily and happily. Read our interview with her below.

Describe the steps you've taken to get into your position and run your own business. 

When I was at school, I wasn’t 100% certain of exactly what career path I wanted to follow, but I was certain that I wanted to do something that involved writing. This is how I got into journalism. The first step I took to get to where I am today, I guess, was to put myself in a position to get into the industry. This meant becoming suitably qualified. First. 

Since then I have continued to upskill myself, doing courses directly related to journalism as well as those that enriched me with life skills and that would enable me to be a better story-teller and leader. I decided to never stop learning – and in a fast-changing industry like the media, this is essential. 

I also ensured that I wasn’t only equipped with the practical skills required to do my job, but also the deep theoretical knowledge required to be a thought leader in my industry. To this end, I pursued a Master’s degree and graduated with a Master of Philosophy in Journalism in 2017 and am currently working on a proposal for my doctoral studies.

However, I believe what has benefited me the most in my growth in my career is that I believe in doing rather than talking about what I’d like to do. This gives you the opportunity to prove your worth. There’s nothing more disappointing than someone who can talk a big game but not deliver the goods.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you were first entering the workforce, what would it be?

Every experience is a learning experience.

How would you describe your leadership style? Has it changed over the years and why?

In journalism, when we describe how we’re going to tell a story, or how we’re going to contextualise it, we refer to the “angle”. When I was appointed editor of Cape Community Newspapers, the “angle” of my story went along the lines of “youngest editor the company had appointed”, I was the “first black woman editor”... “The youngest, black editor”. And boy, did I feel the weight of those descriptors. 

While my predecessor was a wonderful mentor, in the early days of my appointment, I found myself second-guessing myself, constantly asking what my predecessor would do in any given situation. It was only when I decided to shut that second-guessing voice up and listen to my own instincts, that I started developing my own leadership style and, I believe, becoming a better leader.

While everyone has clearly defined roles in the life of a story as it goes from conceptualisation to publication – and even though the buck ultimately stops with me - I believe that everyone who works on that story, from writer to sub-editor to proof reader, must take some responsibility for the final product. I also believe in working closely with staff at all levels of our newsroom structure.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, can you share how you have pivoted your work? Have there been any silver linings for you?

As I write this – on Thursday March 18 – I am marking exactly a year since our team started working from home.  And currently the majority of our team is still working remotely.

As someone who thrives on working in a team, and because we have a fairly close-knit staff, I initially found it very difficult working from home. While my husband was also working from home, he had been doing so for many years and was well set in his routine. So, there I was, trying to find my … new groove. 

However, one year down the line, I look back and I can honestly say that I have found my groove and settled into a fairly well-balanced work-life routine. I exercise every morning before work, eat lunch away from my desk – and I certainly do not miss the time and energy wasted in traffic every morning and evening. Since I started working from home, I’ve also prioritised regular yoga practice which has helped me maintain both my physical and mental well-being. 

Being physically separated from my colleagues has also made reconnecting a priority, so whereas I may have taken that connection for granted when we were all working at head office, it now takes a conscious effort to touch base and ensure that we make meaningful connections. 

By far, however, my lockdown silver lining has been adopting a dog who has brought more joy into my life than I thought could exist in a world threatened by a pandemic! And when we are happy, we are able to thrive in all aspects of life – including work!

What do you think is your superpower as a woman in your industry or as a leader in your company?

I am happy to identify my superpower – but I do not believe it has anything to do with me being a woman. These superpowers that enable us to be effective leaders … I believe they can be practised whether you’re a man or a woman, and I’m firm on that.

My superpower is care. I truly care about the people I work with – as well as every story we tell through our news platforms.

What is exciting you about the rest of 2021? Either personally or at work or both!

Personally: I’ve entered my first full marathon…!  2020 was also a very productive year for me in terms of writing and I plan to finalise my first poetry anthology during the first half of 2021. 

Work: I’m looking forward to implementing some new innovations to better engage our audiences. I think 2020 took us all by surprise, and we put many things on hold, imagining that 2021 would arrive and we’d go “back to normal”. By now, we’ve all realised that’s not a thing, right? So, all our big ideas we’re going to have to implement in this new normal. The way we thought we were going to do it… forget that. This year we have to find new ways to do all the things we planned, but had to put on hold.

What is your word or mantra for the rest of this year?


HUH? Let me explain. I watch lots of documentaries and one of them, a really terrible one on life coaching, contained a few minutes of content that changed my life. It was a segment on Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, which involves feeling – really feeling – these four statements: I’m sorry; Please forgive me; Thank you; I love you. Most powerful for me, was being able to use this practice to express love, forgiveness and gratitude to myself.

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