To be a Lifetime Achiever in the 10th Women in The Media awards you certainly don’t have to be a geriatric. But, as CEO of Wag the Dog and publisher of The Media, Sandra Gordon, says, you do have to be a woman in the media who has “stood strong and gone through immeasurable odds”.
The joint winners of the 2012 1st for Women in The Media Lifetime Achiever awards most certainly live up to those words. Peta Thornycroft, as The Media editor, Peta Krost Maunder, says, “has been a thorn in the side of Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, for many years, telling the world what was happening in Zimbabwe when many others were too afraid.”
Thornycroft became a journalist, says Krost Maunder, to “change the world and be first with the story”. And she said, “If there is one thing she wanted to be remembered for, it was for having got it more right than wrong”.
Thornycroft says she believes South African media have “put on a bloody good show and have got it more right than wrong”. And she regaled the audience with a story on an occasion she did get it VERY wrong. Writing a story for the Daily Telegraph, on the Zimbabwean currency, she added three more zeroes than the trillion Zim dollars already had. It caused enormous amount of consternation and alarm.
As she told Krost Maunder, she after decades in this industry, she “still hates coming second on a story even with changed media circumstances when stories on the internet regularly get nicked”.
Beatrice Khubeka, says media man Gordon Muller, who introduced her, “invented quiet diplomacy in the advertising world”. Introducing himself as an “emerging geriatric”, Muller said 30 years ago South Africa couldn’t have imagined a radio station called Kaya FM or Yfm. The former CEO of research company, African Response, retired recently, but not before inspiring generations of advertising people with her incisive insights.
Khubeka, he said, made a lasting impression on young people his age just entering the media industry in late ‘70s South Africa. “Beatrice Khubeka had the only perspective on the black consumer at that time. She made a lasting impression due to her efforts to help advertisers understand the township market and she changed the way people thought”.
Khubeka credits Muller and eminent media researcher, Jos Kuper, for mentoring her and helping her become the premier researcher she was before retiring. “I am a typical township consumer,” she says. “I live in what I call ‘Diepkloof Expensive’ in Soweto, by choice. And now look at me. At Summer Place. Heh! I have arrived!”