KARACHI: Khadija Patel, the head of programmes for the International Fund for Public Interest Media and former editor-in-chief of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper, has been elected as the 35th chair of the International Press Institute (IPI)’s global executive board.

“I’m honoured to be entrusted with this position,” she said. “And I look forward to steering the IPI through this challenging period of media history. The IPI is a cherished institution and is best placed to bring together the diversity of our industry to forge ahead during a period of significant upheaval.”

Ms Patel was elected by fellow members of IPI’s executive board during the organisation’s world congress and general assembly, held from Sept 15 to 17 in Vienna, Austria, according to a press release issued by the IPI.

She replaces Markus Spillmann, former editor of Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, who served two terms after being elected to the position during IPI’s 2018 World Congress in Abuja, Nigeria.

Six members re-elected, 10 make it for the first time, as five long-time members step down

Separately, the IPI General Assembly elected 10 new executive board members: Raheem Adedoyin, chairman of the editorial board of Herald Newspapers, Nigeria; Walid Batrawi, media and communications expert, Palestine; John Daniszewski, vice president and editor at large for Standards of The Associated Press, the US; Márton Gergely, editor-in-chief of Hungary’s leading weekly HVG; Emre Kizilkaya, project editor of journo.com.tr, Turkey; Elizaveta Osetinskaya, journalist and media manager, founder of The Bell, Russia; Etaf Roudan, Radio Al Balad Manager, Community Media Network-CMN, Jordan; Hiroki Sugita, columnist and associate executive director of Japan’s Kyodo News; Jussi Tuulensuu, senior editor-in-chief of Aamulehti, Finland; and Sami Zeidan, principal presenter for Al Jazeera Media Network, Qatar.

The IPI general assembly, meanwhile, re-elected as executive board members Zaffar Abbas, Editor, Dawn, Pakistan; Mahfuz Anam, Editor and Publisher, The Daily Star, Bangladesh; Monika Eigensperger, Director of Radio, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), Austria; David Jordan, Director, Editorial Policy, BBC, the UK; Riyad Mathew, Editor, Malayala Manorama and The Week, India; and Ms Patel.

Finally, five long-time IPI executive board members stepped down due to term limits: Sami El Haj, head of human rights and public liberties desk at Al Jazeera Media Network, Qatar; Daoud Kuttab, director general of CMN and founder of Jordan’s community radio AmmanNet; Kaius Niemi, senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland; Martha Steffens, professor and Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) chair in Business and Financial Reporting, University of Missouri School of Journalism, the US; and John Yearwood, global news editor and editor, China Watcher, POLITICO, the US.

Although stepping down as a board member, Mr Niemi was nominated to serve as a special adviser to the executive board.

Praising the election of Ms Patel, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said: “We are thrilled to welcome Khadija Patel as IPI’s new Board chair, and greatly look forward to working with her to address the challenges facing independent journalism across the globe. It is no surprise that Khadija earned the trust of her fellow board members to take over the chair position, and her deep experience as a journalist and editor makes her perfectly suited to this role.”

She added: “For me and all the colleagues at IPI, it has been a great privilege to work closely with Markus Spillmann over the past three years of his chairmanship. He has provided very valuable guidance to IPI in a difficult period as the global pandemic forced IPI to revise the way we work in order to serve our global network.”

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2021

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