A Black South African journalist banned by the South African government last week became the first foreign journalist to win the Nieman Foundation's Louis M. Lyons Award for "conscience and integrity" in journalism.
The recipient Joseph Thloloe spent more than two years in jail in the late 1970s as a result of his reporting on race-related labor problems for several major Johannesburg newspapers.
While writing for The World, now banned, and The Post, closed under threat of banning in 1980. Thloloe also headed the Union of Black Journalists and helped organize a general strike of Black journalists in 1980.
"What has happened to Joe is symbolic of the plight of Black South African journalists," current Nieman Fellow Ameen Akhalwaya said yesterday. "More than any other journalist, he has shown the courage that the award stands for." Akhalways is a political reporter for the South African Rand Daily Mail.
As a banned citizen, Thloloe will not be allowed to travel to Cambridge to accept the non-monetary award from the independent journalist foundation. He is currently living in Soweto and studying by correspondence at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
"I think that there is little concern for Black South African journalists here in the United States and I hope the award may bring attention to the plight of people like Joe," said Akhalwaya.
Thloloe's journalists career ended after his banning in 1980. He may no longer enter any place where a publication is produced, any educational institution, or any factory Akhalwaya said.
Nominations for the prestigious annual Lynes Award were made by members of this year's Nieman class, who selected the winner by a majority vote.
Past winners of the annual award include Joe Alex Merris '49, who was killed while covering the Iranian revolution, journalist and author David L. Halberstam '55, and consumer activist Ralph Nader.