Knight International Journalism Fellowships

South Africa: Give Health News a Higher Profile

A reporter in South Africa who has lived with HIV for more than a decade wanted to produce a health show for Soweto TV, the largest community station in Africa. She lacked the skills to pull it off until Knight Fellow Mia Malan showed up.

Mia Malan launched the first weekly health program at Soweto TV, the largest community TV station in Africa, with more than 1 million viewers. She trained a team to produce high-quality feature reports for the show with a special focus on HIV/AIDS. The half-hour show features topics such as the use and abuse of antiretroviral drugs, male circumcision, attention-deficit disorder and organ transplants.

In addition to the new half-hour weekly show, health stories on Soweto TV’s daily news reports have increased threefold as a result of Malan’s efforts. In the first half of her fellowship, she increased health stories fivefold at the influential Mail & Guardian, enabling the paper to attract a major advertiser for a weekly, four-page health section. The section continues to be successful long after Malan left for Soweto TV. Under her guidance, Mail & Guardian reporters produced more than 100 in-depth and investigative articles on issues such as national health insurance, maternal death, AIDS treatment and fetal-alcohol syndrome.

Our Stories


  • Apr 92009

    South Africa's 4th AIDS conference: The politics of HIV in South Africa.

    On a dark Durban night in June 2000, two of South Africa’s leading HIV/AIDS researchers were unexpectedly called to a meeting in a plush room at the city’s Hilton Hotel. “The minister wants to see you! Now!” a government official had simply barked at Professors Salim Abdool Karim and Jerry Coovadia, who were both in the process of releasing groundbreaking studies at the International AIDS Conference.

    Both men had previously been critical of their government’s response to the epidemic which was at the time killing thousands of their compatriots.

  • Mar 182009

    Finally in South Africa!

    Editors Note: Fellow Mia Malan returns to South Africa.

    I’ve been back in Johannesburg for a month now – after an absence of six years in Kenya and the US. So I’m seeing my country through a new set of eyes - mostly because I’ve got more to compare it to than before I left. Many people are negative, which I can understand to some extent – dealing with a constant climate of crime and corruption can be exhausting. But mostly, I see positive changes in South Africa - at least so far.


  • South Africa's Soweto TV announces its hard-hitting health series on issues such as HIV/AIDS and male circumcision, produced under the guidance of Knight Fellow Mia Malan.

  • Knight Fellow Mia Malan discusses story ideas with Soweto TV producer Buti Rampa.