Launched in 2019 as the business school's response to a vital industry in crisis, the scholarship has just celebrated the capping of one of its inaugural scholars Thabiso Thakali, the news editor of Sowetan, who graduated in November with a PG Dip.

Meanwhile, multiple award-winning investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk has begun the second year of her degree.

Henley dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley says that the scholarship has never been more important than it currently is. "When we launched this award, it was to recognise great journalists who are not just future leaders in their field, but potential game-changers too," Foster-Pedley says.

"At the time, South Africa owed its emergence from a decade of state capture to the incredible courage and tenacity of some of its finest journalists, yet the media industry was under incredible strain because of the disruption it was experiencing," Foster-Pedley adds.

"None of us could have foreseen the carnage that the Covid-19 pandemic would wreak on the industry, with many legacy institutions simply shutting their doors last year, further diminishing the spaces for debate and information," says Foster-Pedley.

One very exciting exception to the downward trend last year, he says, has been Daily Maverick's decision to expand from a web-based news platform to a traditional weekly newspaper.

"In many ways, as the publishers themselves admitted, it's counter-intuitive. But by totally relooking the business model of print, they found a way to buck the trend. It's precisely this kind of innovation that the Sol Plaatje scholarship wishes to encourage and nurture," Foster-Pedley says.

Henley Africa aims to provide a significant number of scholarships because of the need to develop sustainability across the spectrum, while infusing diversity in its virtual and physical classrooms.

"We set out to break the mould," says Foster-Pedley. "A flourishing, sustainable, switched on and credible media is as important as a sustainable and flourishing creative arts sector. They're both as important as the traditional corporate sector and indeed as the SME sector."

"When they all get together in one room, they can learn from one another [and] they can encourage each other. That's where you see the magic as we purposefully decolumnise and decolonise education to build a brand-new future," he concludes.

Individuals who are interested in applying for the Sol Plaatje media scholarship are encouraged contact [email protected].

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