New Narratives fellow and FrontPage Africa newsroom chief Wade Williams has been awarded the prestigious Journalist of the Year award at Liberia’s annual media awards. Wade is only the second woman to win the award. The UN’s Eva Flomo won the award in 2011.
Wade has been with the New Narratives program since January 2011. In that time she has repeatedly broken important news stories and charted a new path for women journalists in an industry that has long been dismissive of women’s ability. She is the first woman to lead a Liberian newsroom.
In 2012 Wade was one of four international reporters awarded a prestigious Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship to spend 3 months covering the UN General Assembly in New York City. She was also a guest speaker at the World Association of Newspaper Women in News Conference in Zambia.
“There are a lot of stories to tell, especially after the war. We had a crisis here for almost two decades, and there was so much that happened, and there are so many people that have not had the opportunity to tell their stories.
You go out to the countryside, and you see so much. You see so much deprivation, so much poverty. You see so much that you really don’t see when you’re in the city — issues like maternal mortality and hunger. It is when you cover those issues that people in authority get moved to action.”
“Especially for women journalists there are so many obstacles. There is the issue still of sexual harassment in the workplace. Men feel intimidated by a woman working with them. When you present competition, you are harassed and they intimidate you. They don’t want you to go forward. You have to be a very strong person to compete with these men, because they feel that it’s a man’s world and you shouldn’t be there.
I want to see myself at the top — being one of the best journalists Liberia has ever produced. It is important because I’m a woman, and men look down on a woman and think you cannot do what they can do.
I’m telling men that I am as equally qualified as they are. Even if you say that women are lazy, I can tell you that I’m much stronger than you think.”
When you get out there, you get to know the real issues. You get to know what’s actually affecting the people. You get to know what their needs are. Even though you cannot provide those needs, as a journalist, it is through your channel that people in authority will get to know what’s happening and then they will be moved to action.