The Media magazine has announced the finalists for the prestigious 2009 Vodacom Women in The Media Awards, which honours remarkable women who have made a significant impact on the media industry. They are: Professor Jane Duncan, the former executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) who now holds the Chair of Media and Information Society at Rhodes University; Esmaré Weideman, editor of YOU; Huisgenoot; DRUM; YOU Pulse; and Huisgenoot Pols; Terry Volkwyn, CEO of Primedia Broadcasting; and Debora Patta, group Editor-in-Chief of eNews.

Commenting on this year's finalists, The Media Publisher, Sandra Gordon said: “Once again this year our Editorial Board was impressed with the quality and quantity of nominations. The initiative was launched to acknowledge remarkable women in the media sector and is judged on their political, economic and social contribution within the media sector. We also focus attention on recent achievements. I am confident that the calibre is of the usual high standard and that these women will stand as role models for young people considering a career path in the fourth estate.

“These are women who have invested their time and knowledge into promoting the media industry, whether it is through training and skills development or increasing the all-important audience figures of their respective products.”

In addition to the 2009 Vodacom Women in the Media Award winner, the Rising Star Award (an under 30-year-old making her mark) and the Lifetime Achiever Award will be presented at the annual Vodacom Women in the Media Awards event to be held at Summer Place on 30 July 2009.

Finalists' summary biographies:
Professor Jane Duncan
Outgoing executive director of the FXI and incoming chair of Media and Information Society, Rhodes University

Duncan is well-known and respected as the former executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), a position she held for 15 years. She has obtained three post-graduate degrees and has written widely on media policy and media freedom issues. Duncan recently took up a post as Professor in the Chair of Media and Information Society at Rhodes University. This five-year contract position is sponsored by the Department of Communications, and operates within the Highway Africa project of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes In making the move to her new job, Duncan will focus on research and information dissemination about the Information Society. Her duties will include responsibility, from 2010 onwards, for Highway Africa's annual conference, which has become the world's largest annual gathering of African journalists. In addition, Duncan will encourage the aspects of research, teaching on information society issues and advocacy work, particularly on media freedom issues. The position will also seek to develop innovative ways to promote indigenous language in media and develop the African voice in the media.

Prior to her appointment, Duncan made a significant contribution to the media industry through her involvement with the FXI. In the past 18 months, the FXI has won a case in the Johannesburg High Court regarding the opening to the public and media of the Judicial Services Commission's hearing against Judge John Hlophe. The FXI also played a part in the withdrawal of a number of bills after the president refused to sign them. These include the Film and Publications Amendment Bill; Broadcasting Amendment Bill; and the withdrawal of the Protection of Information Bill.

Esmaré Weideman
Editor: YOU, Huisgenoot, DRUM, YOU Pulse and Huisgenoot Pols

Weideman became the youngest person to hold the editorship when she was appointed Editor of YOU in 2000. By 2002, her role was extended to include the editorship of Huisgenoot, making Weideman the first woman Editor of Media24's two most profitable weekly publications, with a combined readership of around four-million. In 2005 her responsibilities were further broadened to take on a third title, DRUM. Weideman was now responsible for overseeing the largest weekly readership in Southern Africa. In recognition, the company's Phil Weber prize was awarded to her in August 2007 for sustained performance in a career with Naspers. In September 2007 she added Huisgenoot Pols/YOU Pulse to her portfolio. As Editor of the two top-selling magazines in the country (Husigenoot and YOU), Weideman is hailed by Willem Breytenbach, Publisher of Media24 Family Magazines, as being hands-on, always in the thick of things and constantly available to make on-the-spot decisions, give advice and take direction.

“Under her leadership the three magazines have cemented themselves as leaders in the market, which, in this competitive field where new titles are constantly being launched and existing ones are under more and more pressure, is no small feat,” says Breytenbach. “She knows her market and the content of the magazines reflects this week after week, which points to the fact she understands her readers' fears, longings, humour and dreams. To maintain this consistently requires great endurance, much dedication and in no small measure of personal sacrifice.”

To her staff, Weideman is more than an Editor. She is known for her open-door policy, being passionate about nurturing young talent and supportive of all her staff, which has made her highly-respected among the people who work with her. “She demands the highest level of quality on all aspects of the magazine from herself and her staff,” continues Breytenbach. “She will not compromise on a single word, photograph or page, even in a highly-stressful environment where three magazines are produced every single week.”

Terry Volkwyn
CEO, Primedia Broadcasting

Having been appointed as CEO of Primedia Broadcast in 2002, Volkwyn is responsible for the four radio stations in the Primedia stable: Talk Radio 702, 94.7 Highveld Stereo, 567 CapeTalk and Kfm 94.5. A decision was taken in 2003 to integrate the sales teams of Talk Radio 702, 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 567 CapeTalk to streamline the selling process. This was extended in 2004 to include Kfm, as well as the newsroom operations of all four stations; streamlining news; sport and traffic across the board. This move also saw a physical integration of the staff at the two Johannesburg-based stations as well as with the staff at the two Cape Town-based stations. This was a massive project, which required a detailed three-year plan and buy-in from staff. Volkwyn successfully managed this process, which saw success across the board at 94.7 Highveld Stereo, while Talk Radio 702 turned things around, generating revenue in excess of R75 million. Under Volkwyn’s guidance, 567 CapeTalk broke even and has recorded an increasing profit, while Kfm has shown a general improvement in gross revenue. As part of the integration strategy, the news departments across all four stations merged to form a single news brand, Eyewitness News, which launched a website, , in 2008. The company also launched an internal talent management agency – PrimeTalent – in the same year, making this the sixth Primedia Broadcasting brand.

Since Volkwyn took over the reins, all four stations have become well known for their outreach initiatives – best known of these is the Christmas Wish, which airs on the Rude Awakening on 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5 Kfm breakfast during the festive season each year.

Volkwyn has served as chairperson of the Radio Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for four years (since 2002) and has been the driving force behind the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). She was recently appointed to the board of Kaya FM.

Debora Patta
Group Editor-in-Chief, eNews Channel

Debra Patta has been in the industry as both an on-air newswoman and a Senior Editorial Manager for more than 20 years. She began her career in radio as a freelancer for the BBC and in 1990 started at Johannesburg-based talk radio station 702. She started as a reporter and worked her way up to News Editor covering some of the biggest stories of the day. She is particularly well-known for her coverage of Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island through to his election as South Africa's first, black head of state and of course his presidency. Patta moved to independent free-to-air television station,, in 1998. She is currently Executive Producer and host of the current affairs show Third Degree and group Editor-in-Chief of eNews Channel.

In her role as Editor-in-Chief, Patta is responsible for terrestrial news bulletins and's 24-hour news channel. She has trained and mentored a generation of reporters and led the team that launched South Africa's first 24-hour news service.
As Host and Executive Producer of Third Degree, Patta has become known for her assertive interviewing style. In addition, Patta has co-authored two books, Baby Micaela and One Step Behind Mandela. She has covered stories ranging from South Africa's township violence in the late eighties and early nineties, the Rwandan genocide; Nelson Mandela's release and Presidency; Princess Diana's Death; 9/11; the Obama Election campaign; and virtually every major event in South Africa's history over the past 20 years.

Established in 2003 as an initiative of The Media magazine, the annual competition seeks to recognise exceptional women who have made their mark within the media sphere across the content, commercial and academic fields. Last year's winner was Pheladi Gwangwa: Station Manager of Talk Radio 702, previous winners include, Ferial Haffajee and Libby Lloyd. Past Rising Stars have included Redi Direko; Siki Mgabadeli; and Tembisa Gebeda; with the Lifetime Achiever Award recognising the likes of Gwen Gill; Joyce Sikhakhane; Barbara Cooke; and Jane Raphaely.

Wag the Dog publishers was established in 2002 and launched The Media magazine, South Africa's only independent monthly dedicated to hard-hitting and insightful analysis of the media industry. Since then the company has added TheMediaOnline – a website and electronic newsletter – to its stable. A joint-venture with Moneyweb resulted in Wag the Dog taking full-responsibility for producing and operating MarketingWeb, an online portal for the marketing industry.

Latest activities include a joint venture with IMM Graduate School of Marketing to produce Strategic Marketing, a magazine aimed at marketing professionals and a book, Sponsorship SA – An Investor's Guide 2008, available from Strategic Marketing magazine has an ABC of 12 680 copies, which go to IMM GSM graduates, Chartered Marketers and professional marketers.