WAN-IFRA Women in News names three leaders as 2021 laureates

The Women in News programme of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has announced the recipients of its 2021 editorial leadership award from Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arab region.

The laureates are Edyth Kambalame, editor of Malawi’s The Nation on Sunday, Nyein Nyein Naing, editor-in-chief of Myanmar’s now-shuttered 7Day Digital, and Samia Nakhoul, Middle East editor for Thomson Reuters, WAN-IFRA said in a statement on Friday.

The annual award recognises the exemplary contribution of an editor to her newsroom, and under her leadership, her media organisation’s contribution to society.

All three laureates will be part of the WIN-sponsored panel at the WAN-IFRA World News Media Congress on Nov 29, and will be formally recognised in Zaragoza, Spain, in September 2022 as part of World News Media Congress 2022.

“Leadership is more critical to journalism and the media business than ever, and our 2021 Women in News Editorial Leadership Award Laureates exemplify this excellence,” said WAN-IFRA CEO Vincent Peyrègne.

“We are honoured to welcome Kambalame, Naing and Nakhoul to this esteemed group of media leaders as part of our effort to recognise excellence and support greater equality in the news media industry.”

Kambalame is also vice-president of the Malawi Editors’ Forum, vice-chairperson of the Board of the Media Council of Malawi, and interim president of the Association of Women in Media in Malawi

She has more than 15 years of experience in the media industry, steadily rising up the ranks and making her mark as a gender advocate, media trainer and mentor.

“This award comes about seven years since I started my journey with Women in News through the WIN Leadership Accelerator, and I could never have imagined it would lead to this. I am deeply honoured and grateful,” Kambalame said.

“I hope that this will encourage younger women journalists, and give them hope that their hard work and contributions to their newsrooms do get noticed and are worthy of recognition,” said Kambalame.

Naing was one of the few women to ever hold the title of editor-in-chief of a major title in Myanmar. She started her journalism career in 2001 as an intern and rose up the editorial ranks at 7Day Digital, one of the country’s most influential independent media outlets.

The publication was shut down in response to a sweeping crackdown on independent media following the February 2021 military coup.

“I am humbled to receive this award, especially at a time when independent press freedom has been curtailed in our country. Journalists, particularly women, have been abandoning their lifelong passion under a cloud of pressure and threats,” said Naing.

“May this Award represent all the women journalists of Myanmar, and let it stand as a symbol of courage and our commitment to bringing back the freedom of the press in our country.”

Nakhoul embodies bravery and duty to others. Her career has spanned 35 years of reporting from the Middle East, where she started out covering the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980s.

“I am deeply touched and honoured by this recognition. To the new generation of young women, I say: you are the voice of those who have no voices, be passionate, be rigorous, be truthful, be fearless and report without any favour or bias,” she said.

Previous Laureates of the WIN Editorial Leadership Award include Toyosi Ogunseye, head of West Africa at BBC World Service, Karima Kamal, columnist and contributing editor for the Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm, Pamella Sittoni, executive editor for the Daily Nation in Kenya, Noura al-Hourani, Lead Arabic Editor at Syria Direct, Barbara Kaija, editor-in-chief of the Vision Group in Uganda, Anna Nimiriano, the editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor in South Sudan, Acil Tabbara, senior editor at the French-language Lebanese daily L’Orient Le Jour, Mary Mbewe, the executive editor of Zambia’s Daily Nation, and Etaf Roudan, the director of Radio al-Balad in Jordan.

The laureates are selected by members of the Women in News Global Steering Committee.