THE comedian, actor, and broadcaster Sir Lenny Henry and the Afghan women’s news organisation Rukhshana Media have been named joint winners of the 2022 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award for their contributions to addressing under-representation in broadcasting.
The Trustees’ Award, chosen by the chair and board of the Trust, was announced on Monday. A statement about the winners explained: “They have introduced new stories, amplified marginalised voices, and in doing so have opened audiences and readers up to new ideas, new role models, and ultimately shown how content-makers and broadcasters can contribute to a better society.”
Sir Lenny was praised for speaking about the lack of diversity in the media — from his comments about the BAFTAs’ being “all white on the night” in 2013, through to the creation of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity at Birmingham City University, which works to increase representation of marginalised people in the industry.
Zahra Joya founded Rukhshana Media in November 2020, naming it after a woman who was killed for choosing to leave a forced marriage. Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021 (News, 20 August 2021), journalists, news agencies, and broadcasters have been increasingly targeted.
Soody Kim for the Sandford St Martin TrustZahra Joya
Ms Joya, now a refugee in London, continues to run the news agency, which was rewarded for its “unwavering commitment to journalism” and for making Afghan women’s stories heard. Asked about working in exile, Ms Joya said: “Honestly, we don’t do simple journalism these days. We are trying to write for our freedom.”
The chair of the trustees, the Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, said: “In an increasingly multi-cultural and multi-faith world, this year’s Trustees’ Award winners have played a crucial role in helping us to see and understand each other. While hailing from very different backgrounds and parts of the world, both have challenged and widened the conversation around what good broadcasting is and what it is for.”
The Trustees’ Award will be presented at Christ Church, Spitalfields, in London, on 22 June, alongside the annual Sandford St Martin Awards in four broadcast categories, voted on by the public, which will be announced on the night.