News

South African fellowship turns 50

February 7, 2011



The new challenges of journalism and press freedom in South Africa will be the focus as media leaders gather in Cape Town on Saturday, Feb. 12, to mark the 50th anniversary of the South African Nieman Fellowship.

South Africa is the only country that has consistently sent a Nieman Fellow to Harvard each year since the first fellows from the country, Lewis Nkosi and Aubrey Sussens, were selected as members of the class of 1961.

“We believe the fellowship has contributed to the pursuit of excellence in journalism and to the ideals of a free and independent media in a democratic society,” said Joe Thloloe NF ’89, chair of the 2010-2011 South African Nieman Selection Committee.

In a public colloquium to mark the anniversary, Nieman Curator Bob Giles will deliver a keynote speech titled “Bringing Excellence to the New World of Journalism: The Next 50 Years.” He will be joined at the event by South African Nieman Fellows Kevin Davie NF ’96, Mathatha Tsedu NF ’97 and Janet Heard NF ’10.

“Over the last half century, many courageous and talented South African journalists have returned from the Nieman Fellowship experience to provide critical leadership in the press, first against the apartheid government and, since 1994, in strengthening the values of a free press,” said Giles. “It is a great honor for me to represent the Nieman Foundation at this wonderful occasion.”

Giles, a 1966 Nieman Fellow, worked for nearly 40 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before assuming his role as Nieman curator in 2000. Previously, he was editor and publisher of The Detroit News. Earlier, as managing editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Giles directed coverage of the campus shootings at Kent State University, for which the newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Joe Thloloe, chairman of the 2010-2011 Nieman Conference Committee, will moderate a discussion on “Whose Press Freedom?” with Thabo Leshilo NF ’09 and Pippa Green NF ’99, who will be joined by the Independent Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula.

Funding for the Nieman Fellowship is made possible by a range of South African sponsors through the Nieman Trustees of South Africa, which is chaired by Tim du Plessis NF ’93.

For more information, contact Paula Fray NF ’01: paulafray@gmail.com.