Winston Mwale, a JHR-trained journalist working for Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Lilongwe, Malawi, has been named Human Rights Reporter of the year by the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
In March, Mwale approached JHR trainer Desiree Buitenbos with a concept for an investigative report about the progress of democracy in Malawi after the infamous July 20, 2011 protests, which left 19 people dead.
“I was curious as to why the government kept on saying that things are getting better,” says Mwale. “When I looked around, I just didn’t see any changes.”
Together, Mwale and Buitenbos followed new developments and spent almost two months chasing down sources. The final product was a special feature on Malawi’s political progress since July 20 that highlighted increasing government threats on media, opposition and human rights activists.
Their report captured the mood of a nation before the sudden death of President Bingu Wa Mutharika, and it was submitted to the Media Institute of Southern Africa Awards shortly after airing. In May, the winners were announced.
Mwale, who had never won an award for his journalistic work, scooped up Malawi’s Human Rights Reporter of Year award, as well as best report in the HIV/AIDS/Malaria/TB category.
With the awards under his belt, Mwale says he is committed to continuing his efforts towards being a critical and analytical journalist with a passion for human rights.