John Khayia – Malawi

Date: August 31, 2015
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Khayia: A young reporter who wants to be remembered for women’s rights

John Khayia is the one reporter at Galaxy FM whose belief can be challenged by other journalists because it defies one of the core tenets of news telling, objectivity. Khayia believes reporters should go beyond accounting for what happened.

“I feel that is where we miss it”, he starts explaining. “Reporters should strive to cover issues but also unearth solutions to issues affecting our society. I feel a reporter should be emotionally attached to the story and sources because in so doing our success will not be measured by the number of the article but the problems we would have helped to solved”.

Khayia, currently heading the gender desk at the station, says he never had gender on his agenda when he ventured into a career in journalism. “It was not until I met a woman who was ill-treated by her doctor that I began to think that being silent on gender issues would mean I was part of the problem”, Khayia said.

He explained that this woman was never given any pain killers when she was in labour because the doctor who was attending to her did not feel like doing so. This compelled the Malawi Institute of Journalism graduate to feature the woman in his radio column, Nkhani Yanga (My story).

“After chatting to her on the programme and off air, I concluded that the woman was treated this way because of her sex”, John said. “I do not think that if he were treating another man under different circumstances he would have been that ruthless”. After this story, John says he felt that most of the times that women’s rights are violated and they are treated as trivia, it is because they concern women and they are treated case by case.

“Violation of any human right impacts negatively on human development and the fact that a lot of women have their rights violated because of their sex means not only slowing down their development but that of the nation”, argues Khayia, adding that this thought is what made him consider specialising in gender beats.

From this article, John has gone on to publish a lot of gender articles that have not only earned him countless handshakes from the Minister of Gender and Child Development but they have gone a long way to bringing about change.

“In as far as gender based violence issues are concerned, I have made it a point that I shall not give up on an issue until change happens”, the energetic Khayia explains. “I want to be remembered as a young male reporter who fought for women’s and girls’ rights.”

Realising his strength, Thomas Pysata, the managing editor at the station, says John is a big influence in as far as ensuring that other reporters are mainstreaming gender in their beats, be it politics, economics or arts.

“He is so good at signposting his colleagues to good gender equality sources in the country depending on the issues”, explains Psyata. “His other strength is the ability to find a gender angle in most news beats when the rest of the team would never have thought that such a story had a gender angle.”

Khayia, however, bemoans the fact that there is a lack of training opportunities and refreshers on gender issues and that this could be a huge factor in reporters doing so little on gender issues. He cites himself as an example, because he has not attended any training, apart from reading some Gender Links literature, which has enabled him to take the frontline on gender reporting.


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