Cybertorial: Highly acclaimed and multi award winning editor Ferial Haffajee has certainly earned her stripes as one of the most respected and fearless editors of her generation, with multiple awards and accolades in her trophy cabinet.
At the tender age of 22, she was among the fortunate few to interview Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. Following this, she went on to inscribe her name in lights across television and radio with jobs at state broadcaster SABC, as a radio producer and television reporter and print in the subsequent years, including as political writer and managing editor of the Financial Mail, and then as associate editor and editor of the Mail & Guardian.
Having successfully reinforced the M&G’s reputation as a leading investigative weekly, she left to become the editor-in-chief of City Press in 2009; a challenge she approached with much vigor and enthusiasm.
Under her stewardship, the paper has undergone a major redesign and market repositioning to redefine its role in contemporary South African society. It now boasts 1.6-million readers, aided by a first-rate editorial team and a colourful, young and fresh approach to news gathering.
“We aim to be world-class, to set the local news agenda, to be on the money and first with trend-spotting, and to serve up a total Sunday package,” Haffajee says. “Our declared aim is to lead the Sunday reading market and I believe us to be well on our way.”
They are certainly on the right track as City Press journalists emerged as hands down winners with 7 awards at the recent 2013 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism awards held at the World Trade Centre in Sandton on Wednesday 08 May. With the paper’s multifaceted coverage of the Marikana tragedy winning it the South African Story of the Year category.
“Our hard work over the past year has been recognised by the Sikuvile awards and we are so proud of our staff. We thank our journalists for the dedication, tenacity and courage to deliver a top quality product for our readers every week.”
In response to changing times and media consumption habits, City Press has wholeheartedly embraced the digital revolution, with Haffajee and her reporters highly active on the branded @city_press Twitter handles and other social media platforms, and with a website redesign and smartphone application on the horizon.
Haffajee is an outspoken and passionate advocate for media freedom and women’s rights; her personal agenda is to strengthen the status of her fellow women in the media.
“Enabling and lobbying for a generation of women media leaders is part of my goal as editor”, she says.
She serves on the boards of the World Editors Forum, the International Press Institute, the International Women’s Media Foundation as well as Genderlinks.
She also chairs the ethics and diversity committee of the South African National Editors Forum, is on the judging panel for the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards and serves on the advisory group for The Media magazine’s women in the media awards.
Her trophy cabinet includes a Shoprite-Checkers Woman of the Year award, a Women in Media award from The Media magazine and a Sanlam financial journalism award. In 2008, she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and in 2011, one of New African magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans.
Apart from establishing City Press as an essential Sunday read “that is both fun and useful”; her part time passions include training young journalists, political risk analysis and training various organisations in media skills. She is also a regular commentator on radio and television.
The City Press team. Media24 were the big winners at this year’s Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards.
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