Top achiever has dedicated his career to ‘solutions journalism’

A Wits political studies PhD student was named Journalist of the Year for the third time in four years at the Media Institute of Southern Africa – Malawi chapter’s World Press Freedom Commemoration Annual Media Awards Gala on Saturday, May 4.

The 30-year-old Albert Sharra beat 33 other journalists to be declared Journalist of the Year after winning the education journalist and paediatric journalist of the year categories.

The Wits Journalism graduate won the same awards in 2016 and 2017. He was recognised for articles published by National Publications Limited (NPL), including, ‘Long walk to school: Tales from rural areas’; ‘Coping with long distance to access education’; and ‘Poisoning Limbe River: Minors carrying feaces’.

Alfred Ntonga, deputy CEO and head of the editorial department at NPL told Wits Vuvuzela that the heroes in Sharra’s articles are struggling girls,  orphans and farmers who are “the ordinary people in villages who make up 80% of the Malawian population”.

“Malawi hinges on journalists of Sharra’s calibre. He is an unassuming achiever who has probably bagged more awards than any other journalist in Malawi,” Ntonga said.

Sharra told Wits Vuvuzela that for the past 10 years, he has been writing to raise debates and to add values to the community rather than filling a space. “I graduated from been a breaking news reporter. I have been a journalist who wants to tell a story from where my fellow journalists are not looking at,” he said.

Sharra said coming from a family of teachers, education topics were part of the conversations he heard growing up, and this is what motivated him to want to write about struggles to access education in Malawi.

Head of Wits Journalism Professor Franz Kruger, said he was proud of Sharra’s achievements, and described him as a hardworking and sharp journalist. “It was great working with him,” he said.

Kruger added that Sharra’s achievements were proof that “The department continues to attract high calibre journalists.”


FEATURED IMAGE: Albert Sharra has bagged more awards than any other journalist in Malawi. Photo: Rose Clemence Shayo