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MISA Press Freedom Award statement
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
September 08, 2006

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) wishes to congratulate veteran journalist and long time freedom of expression activist Mr Alaudin Osman of Capital Radio in Malawi for winning the 2006 MISA Press Freedom Award.

Osman has had a long career as a media personality and media leader. Media freedom activists continually refer to the Windhoek Declaration as their founding document, Al Osman was among the media pioneers involved in crafting the declaration in 1991.

He has had an illustrious career on both sides of the divide. He served as press secretary to the head of state during which time he improved relations between state house and the media. In a sometimes volatile media environment especially when the then ruling party youths were hostile towards journalists Osman often stepped in to diffuse tense situations and explain the role of the media in a democracy.

At present he is challenging the government of Malawi over the Protected Names Emblems Flags and Places Act which makes it unlawful to undertake any act that may bring the presidency in disrepute. Whilst a decision is awaited this particular case is of great interest for media freedom and freedom of expression activists.

His pioneering spirit is still evident. He is the Publicity Secretary for the Malawi Editors Forum and is at the fore front of media debates in the country and the region. Unlike many private media institutes Capital Radio is very conscious about the development of its staff. In that same pioneering spirit Osman and his radio station never shy away from controversy.

When the Gender and Media Baseline Study was conducted in Malawi Capital Radio was among the worst performers in terms of coverage of women. Upon receiving the study Al immediately directed his staff to ensure that voices of both women and men were covered equally and is an active member of GEMSA which was formed out of this same study by MISA and Gender Links.

Therefore this year MISA is honouring a media pioneer, a media leader, media trainer, and a media activist.

The MISA Press Freedom award is given to honour excellence in journalism in Southern Africa. Excellence in journalism may be described as the upholding of ethics of the profession at all costs and the relentless pursuit of truth behind the bare facts. The award is also in recognition of the work of an individual or institution where this is considered to have made a significant contribution to the promotion of media freedom in the region. The excellence which the award open to all frms of media acknowledges, can be achieved either through reportage or in other ways such as media reform, lobbying or training.

It was first given in 1993 to the late Onesimo Makani Kabweza as editor of Moto in Zimbabwe, was one of the first Zimbabwean journalists to break the ‘culture of silence’ which followed the country’s independence in 1980. Last year the award was given to South- African based editor and media freedom activist Raymond Louw, in recognition of his tireless campaigning for an enabling environment for media freedom and freedom on expression in our region.

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