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Namibian journalist nominated for international awards

Namibian freelance journalist Sonja Smith has been nominated as a finalist in the Institute for Non-Profit News (INN) Awards.

Smith confirmed her nomination on Monday.

“I did not know about the nomination until our director, Jeff, called me on 18 July to inform me about the news. The news came with excitement because this is my first international nomination,” Smith said.

Smith, in collaboration with her colleagues, worked on a three-part series that documented Namibia’s sanitation crisis, titled ‘Not the kind of life a human being should live’ in November last year.

“Namibia remains one of the worst countries in southern Africa, with 47% of people practising open defecation and 71% rurally, a statistic that has not changed much since 2013,” Smith said.

She emphasised her passion and enthusiasm for journalism.

“I love the thrill of it, but I have also been lucky to work with experienced colleagues, both at the Centre for Collaborative Investive Journalism (CCIJ) and The Namibian. They share my passion for speaking truth to power and being a voice for the voiceless,” Smith said.

“This has ensured a back and forth on stories, structures, angles and holding up own work to continued scrutiny in terms of ensuring quality journalism which maintains accuracy and integrity,” she said.

Even in the midst of challenges, Smith says she has not wavered.

“I have been threatened with lawsuits and been called names before. But none of that was able to hold me back. The plan is to keep going,” she said.

The INN Awards honour excellence in journalism, leadership and community service across the field of non-profit news.

These awards are open to all members of the INN whose membership is in good standing.

The awards ceremony is slated for 23 August in New York.