Cybertorial: At the recently held 2013 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards Adriaan Basson and Paddy Harper won the Journalist of the Year Award and the Investigative Journalism Award for their investigation of the Nkandla saga.
Adriaan Basson has already scooped a number of top industry awards, has written an acclaimed book on Jackie Selebi’s downfall and is currently an assistant editor at arguably South Africa’s most progressive Sunday newspaper, City Press, all at the tender age of only 33.
Respected veteran newsman and political correspondent William ‘Paddy’ Harper currently serves as the bureau chief for City Press in Durban. A keen football fan and music lover, Harper has been a journalist since 1984, beginning his career as a trainee journalist with the now-defunct Leader newspaper.
Under Basson City Press has strengthened the newsroom’s own investigative capacity, enhanced its standard of reporting and built a strong team with a vision of being the best in the country.
“Journalism is changing so rapidly,” he says. “At City Press, we all work across different platforms: we tweet, we file online and we write for the Sunday paper. It’s essential that newspapers adapt and give readers something different to what they can find online, otherwise we’ll become redundant.”
In his first job as a junior reporter at Beeld, Basson was immediately thrown into the cauldron of the Johannesburg crime beat. It didn’t take long for him to go from wet-behind-the-ears cub reporter to bona fide journalist. During his first year on the job, he won the daily’s Scoop of the Year award.
“I realised that politics rule the world, and where politics and truth come together – that was where I wanted to be”, says Basson.
In 2004, Basson spent six months reporting on the Schabir Shaik trial in Durban for all Media24’s Afrikaans titles – an experience that “opened my eyes to the triangle of where politics, crime and business meet”.
Two years later, he was a founding member of Beeld’s investigations unit – and the awards started rolling in. He was twice named Media24’s investigative journalist of the year for exposés of irregularities in the correctional services department and the eNaTIS traffic management system.
To crown his achievements during that period, he walked away with the inaugural Taco Kuiper award from Wits University for investigative journalism.
Harper’s career began in 1986, when he joined The Mercury, first in its Pietermaritzburg bureau and later as a politics writer. Following a short stint at the Post newspaper, Harper was part of the group which set up and ran The New African newspaper in Durban, working as both senior writer and news editor.
In 1990 Harper left journalism to work full time for the Cosatu as media co-ordinator in its Joint Working Committee set as part of the peace process in KwaZulu-Natal. During this time he worked closely with the National Peace Accord structures.
In 1995 Harper returned to journalism, working for the New Nation and Sowetan before moving to the Sunday Tribune as political writer and later parliamentary correspondent. He would spend the next nine years running the news desks at the Tribune and the Independent on Saturday.
In 2004 Harper joined the Sunday Times as a senior writer, a post he held until joining City Press. Harper is co-author of The Lighter Side of Life on Robben Island, released in late 2012.
It is clear that both form part of the dynamic senior editorial team at City Press playing a key role in helping the newspaper reshape and reposition itself in response to changing readership needs.
Paddy Harper, co-winner of the Investigative Journalism Award
IMAGE: Standard Bank joint CEO, Sim Tshabalala with Adriaan Basson and convening judge, Paula Fray.
Note: Cybertorial is paid-for content.