According to the Sunday Times, she was commended by the judges for openly speaking about depression and anxiety that affects journalists. Hunter says it was important to acknowledge the effects that attacks and social media bullying had on journalists.

"Yes, we are brave and we write these stories, but that shouldn't stop us from acknowledging the effect it has on our mental health. It is not often spoken about. People think journalists are machines when reporting on difficult stories. The effect that it has on us is important to discuss," says Hunter.

The criteria for the award by the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) include showing integrity, reporting fearlessly and displaying a commitment to serve the people of South Africa.

Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko adds, "Qaanitah richly deserves this award. Since joining the Sunday Times, she has consistently shown herself to be a courageous journalist of integrity. She does not allow her detractors to throw her off the scent in her quest to inform South Africans on matters of political interest."

Hunter says she was humbled by the award as it usually recognised journalists at the end of their careers.

"This validates my efforts over the past eight years. At 25 years old, I am in the formative stage of my career. It is humbling and encouraging to know that this is not the end but my beginning," she adds.

Tiso Blackstar Group MD Andy Gill concludes, "Everyone at Tiso Blackstar is incredibly proud of Qaanitah and the exceptionally high standards she has set."

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