Editorial: Iron Lady of Journalism leaves a strong legacy

Johannesburg – We join thousands of Karima Brown’s colleagues, friends and family who are still in shock and struggling to come to terms with her death.

Veteran journalist Brown died on Thursday morning from Covid-19 complications.

The outpouring of grief came from all quarters, including many of those people who loved to hate her.


There are those who rejoiced her death on social media – the less said about them the better.

For there is one thing that made Karima stood out among many journalists.

That was her courage. She did not flinch in the face of challenge or hostility. She was a woman who steadfastly stood by her convictions.

Those who have worked with her know how she could not be easily moved once she had taken a decision which she believed to be in the interests of the larger good in society.

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This, to some, constituted embedded journalism.

Some saw this feature of hers as stubbornness.

And there are those who saw it as arrogance. To some it was intransigence and the lack of appreciation for a different view.

Yet to those who knew her better, this was seen as firmness and decisiveness. Yes, some saw it as resolve and steadfastness – no matter what challenges she faced at any particular moment and situation. She was a fearless activist and newsroom leader. She fought patriarchy in newsrooms.

There are many female journalists that Karima took under her wing.

She fought to ensure that women journalists were afforded and accorded equal rights and recognition in our newsrooms. She was feared and loathed by some of the powerful editors and publishers she’d worked with.

She distinguished herself as an activist who did not give a damn about the social status, power and influence of her opponents. She cared more about the correctness and the legitimacy of her cause and principle. She forged professional relations and network connections with some of the powerful politicians in the country.

She again turned her back and walked away when she felt they were becoming too consumed and besotted with wealth and luxury, which she saw as extravagances that posed a serious threat to service delivery.

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She did not hesitate to debate and influence a political narrative she thought was crucial to the development of service journalism and the country. She earned a nickname of the Iron Lady of Journalism in the corridors of the media industry because she did not shy away from the battle.

People would most of the time even think of her as strategically naïve because she would not even notice when she was antagonising both friends and foes alike. She had a good and golden heart too.

A story is told of how, for instance, Karima kept her domestic worker in her employ for over 20 years and ensured that she paid for her child’s school fees.

Apart from her feisty and fearless political posture, she was a loving mother to her son and a friend to many people who knew her softer side of life. Her passion and vigour will be sorely missed.

With her courage and fearlessness, Karima has left an indelible and profound mark in the landscape of South African journalism.

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