The 2011 Women in the Media Awards’ finalists have been announced. The Awards, which are in their ninth year, are sponsored by 1st for Women Insurance Brokers.
Devi Sankaree Govender of Carte Blanche; Phylicia Oppelt, editor of The Times; Michelle van Breda, editor of Sarie; Michelle Meyjes, CEO of MEC Global and Jodi Bieber, award-winning freelance photographer, were chosen as finalists for the overall Award by The Media magazine’s editorial board. The winner will be announced at an Awards ceremony in July 2011 in Johannesburg.
“We have spent nine years recognising and rewarding remarkable women in the media sector,” says Sandra Gordon, publisher of The Media magazine and founder of the event. “I continue to be surprised by the number of women who are holding down significant positions within the media, but who are not afforded the same recognition as their male counterparts. It is clear that this award still has a major part to play and I am pleased to see the commitment of past winners to this initiative.”
As one of the judges, Prof Nixon Karithi remarked: “These top media women, despite the challenges they face, have been stalwarts and champions of the industry, which has resulted in the vibrancy and longevity of the sector.”
The winner of the 1st for Women in The Media Award as well as the 1st for Women Rising Star Award (an under 30-year-old making her mark) and the 1st for Women Lifetime Achiever Award, will be presented at the annual event.
Judges include Libby Lloyd, Peta Krost-Maunder, Jos Kuper, Prof Nixon Karithi, Gordon Muller, Prof Govin Reddy, Sandra Gordon, Ryland Fisher, Melanie Chait, Ferial Haffajee and Glenda Nevill.
Finalists’ summary biographies (as submitted by nominators):
Jodi Bieber: Photographer
Jodi Bieber has lived in Johannesburg for the past 35 years. She studied photography at the Market Theatre photographic workshop, a non-profit organisation founded by David Goldblatt. Her photographic career began in September 1993 as a darkroom assistant at the Star Newspaper under the guidance of the late Ken Oosterbroek. Bieber freelanced for that newspaper until 1996. She covered the historical period leading up to and during the first democratic elections in South Africa, winning numerous South African Press Awards. After attending the World Press Masterclass in Amsterdam in 1996 she began freelancing for foreign magazines and newspapers.
She has been awarded seven World Press Photographic Awards including four 1st Prizes. She also won a Gold Prize for Reportage spread or Single Page in The Society of Publications Designers Awards in New York in 2001 for her work on the Ebola Crisis in Uganda for The New York Times Magazine. Notably, and more recently, Bieber won the overall World Press Photo of the Year (2011). She won the award for her photograph highlighting women’s plight in Afghanistan.
Devi Sankaree Govender: Investigative Journalist and Presenter, Carte Blanche
Devi Sankaree Govender began her career in journalism on radio while studying for her BA degree at the University of Natal. She went on to complete an Honours degree in Drama and Performance Studies and a Higher Diploma in Education. Her more recent academic achievements include a Post Graduate Diploma in Management and an MBA.
She joined Lotus FM as a full-time talk show host and in 1996, entered television as a freelance continuity presenter for SABC 1’s “Eastern Mosaic.” Govender has worked in print at the Sunday Times in 1998 as a feature editor and columnist. She joined the Carte Blanche team as their youngest investigative television journalist and her role was expanded to include Carte Blanche Medical in 2010. Govender is currently working on a book compilation of her newspaper columns with the future aim of translating some of her narratives on stage.
Michelle Meyjes: CEO, MEC Group South Africa
Michelle Meyjes is the CEO of MEC Group in South Africa (which is a prolific player in the media agency sector). Her advocacy and concerns of the industry are noteworthy, and she has consistently raised the industry’s challenges to political and economic bodies. On the industry advocacy front, Meyjes assembled a group of industry leaders to engage the SABC on issues needing urgent attention. The group included the Association for Communication & Advertising (representing the largest advertising firms), the Marketing Association of SA, the Advertising Media Forum and media agencies. The main issues were the lack of a consistent pricing strategy, audience stability and schedule delivery, which Meyjes delivered with gusto and insight.
Her leadership during the world economic crisis was amazing and commendable. She managed to retain all staff and focused on our existing client base. Billings at that point grew 2%, but the client base has grown significantly: Chrysler, Michelin Tyres and Cape Union Mart came on board. Meyjes has drawn 30 clients to MEC so far. The only loss was Prudential. Over the past year, Nota Bene has occupied the number three position in the market and Mediaedge:cia the sixth position. As a group, MEC occupies the number two position with billings totalling R3-billion.
In the most recent RECMA vitality rating both Nota Bene and Mediaedge:cia received A+ rating for increased profitability. Nota Bene received the Media Agency of the Year Award in 2007 and Mediaedge:cia was one of three finalists for Media Agency of the Year Award in 2007.
Phylicia Oppelt: Editor, The Times
Oppelt is currently the editor of The Times newspaper. In her time, circulation has increased, which is an enormous feat considering that now The Times is a paid for product, when before, it was free to Sunday Times subscribers. Launched in 2007, in three years the readership has grown to 330 000. Previously Oppelt was editor of the Eastern Cape’s Daily Dispatch which was commended for its progressive and original online newspaper campaign. Simultaneously, Oppelt was the editor of the Sunday Times Business Times until 2010. As author of a regular column published in the Sunday Times between 2000 and 2004, she garnered national respect for providing penetrating social and political commentary about a country in flux.
Oppelt is a newspaper person, but an insightful leader and businesswoman too, having initiated a number of management changes on all publications, appointing several women to positions of leadership.
Michélle Van Breda: Editor, Sarie
Van Breda is the quintessential media professional. With more than 25 years of journalism experience, she has built SARIE into a publishing phenomenon, radically repositioning SARIE to the country’s biggest-selling women’s glossy – a position it has held for nine years despite fierce competition. Readership is at 780 000 a month, significantly higher than other glossies. SARIE now includes various award-winning brand extensions and runs the second largest website for women in SA.
Van Breda is an inspirational editor and has developed some of SARIE’s talent into household names. During her tenure, she and her team have received more industry awards than ever before in the magazine’s 61 years – more than 70 prizes since she took over in 2001.