By Pulane Choane
Rebecca Davis’s ability to move gracefully between making her audiences laugh their lungs out from her thought-provoking and chucklesome books to penning pithy pieces highlighting the struggles of some of South Africa’s forgotten populations has made her one of the country’s most prolific journalists.
She began her academic career at Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, where she completed her undergraduate degree in 2000, obtaining her degree cum laude. Rebecca then pursued her Masters in English and Literature at Rhodes, and again graduated cum laude.
This earned her the Flanagan Scholarship in 2005, which enabled her to pursue her second Masters degree at Oxford University between 2006 and 2008. Further accolades include being named as one of Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 South Africans in 2014.
Over the years, other awards she has received include being a two-time winner of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards in different categories and the 2014 Top 40 Under 40s in the Media by mediaonline.co.za.
One of her most important works to date was her 2017 documentary “Dying for Gold,” which unearthed the health ramifications that gold mining in South Africa has for gold miners who are dying of silicosis and tuberculosis. This documentary earned her the top spot and a $20 000 grant in the African Story Challenge, a project of the African Media Initiative (AMI), in partnership with the International Center for Journalists. The feature-length documentary remains a vital reference point by researchers and journalists on emerging literature on how gold mining affects miners’ health and how this problem contributes to the country’s tuberculosis problem.
Her career achievements highlight her dedication to excellence and her commitment to changing the world through her work as a media professional by not shying away from society’s more taboo topics. She’s also the author of two books, titled Self-helpLess: A Cynic’s Search for Sanity and Best White and Other Anxious Delusions.
She’s worked as a researcher for Oxford English Dictionary, as a columnist for Mail & Guardian, a TV critic for Sunday Times, and a freelance writer for global titles like Financial Times, Marie Claire, Elle, and Cosmopolitan, to name a few.
Today, she juggles her time as a Cape Talk radio correspondent, a senior Daily Maverick reporter, and the host and writer for the popular podcast Don’t Shoot The Messenger.
On Thursday, Rebecca will receive the JMS 50 Alumni Award at a ceremony in Cape Town. This event forms part of Rhodes University’s School of Media and Studies 50th Anniversary, which, over the course of this year, honours 50 of its outstanding alumni who have contributed to South African Media.