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Have You Heard of Ntsiki Biyela?

September 17, 2011
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How an award-winning winemaker’s personal  narrative of achievement speaks to our commitment to you, our readers

Have you heard of Ntsiki Biyela? Unless you are familiar with the world of South African winemaking, or happened to be reading The New York Times on August 27, you probably haven’t heard of her; in fact, I hadn’t heard of her, either. But I did happen to be reading the Times online on that date, and so I came across that newspaper’s wonderfully inspiring article about how Ms. Biyela, who grew up poor in a small village in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province, turned an unusual winemaking scholarship to Stellenbosch University, on the other side of that nation in its wine country, into a trailblazing career as one of the first black African winemakers there to win national winemaking prizes.

The Times article opens thus: “When Ntsiki Biyela won a winemaking scholarship in 1998, she was a certainly a curious choice. She had grown up in the undulating hills of Zululand, living in a small village of huts and shacks. People tend their patches of pumpkins and corn. The only alcohol they drank was homemade beer, a malt-fed brew that bubbled in old pots. Indeed, Ms. Biyela had never even tasted wine, nor had anyone she knew.”

As the article goes on to explain, not only is Ms. Biyela talented and hardworking, she also made a series of personal cultural leaps in order to move forward in the nearly all-white, culturally European wine world, and to come to excel at the craft that destiny seems to have chosen for her. To her credit and to the astonishment of many, Ms. Biyela’s very first red wine blend won a gold medal at the country’s prestigious Michelangelo awards. Later, she was named South Africa’s Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009. In the end, she proved to everyone the wisdom of those who had facilitated her career by providing her her initial university scholarship.

I found much to relate to in Ntsiki Biyela’s story. A journalist for nearly 30 years now and a healthcare journalist for 22 years, I am always strongly aware of the fact that, as someone who is neither an informaticist nor a clinician by background, my editorial authority derives from whatever strengths I can bring to my job as a seasoned and conscientious journalist. And that awareness always keeps me humble and deeply conscious of my responsibility to maintain only the very highest standards of editorial integrity and responsibility at Healthcare Informatics, and to make certain that our publication’s coverage is always carefully balanced and truly serves the objective needs of its readers. In that dedication and purposefulness, I am joined by the other members of our outstanding editorial team.

And in that regard, it has been highly gratifying for our team to have received a number of national awards in recent years, and to regularly receive sincere compliments on our coverage from our readers and from industry experts. Like our colleagues at the other six healthcare periodicals published by our parent company, Vendome Group LLC, we are all journalists by background, not practitioners in the healthcare sectors we cover. That fact only intensifies our commitment to adhere to the highest standards in journalism. We all take very seriously the responsibility we’ve been given along with the wonderful opportunity to cover the industry for you.

And, like Ntsiki Biyela, I will always be conscious of, and honor, the special opportunity I’ve been given, by continuing to work with our team members to bring to you only the very highest-quality reporting analysis on our website and in our print magazine. It’s what you—and all healthcare stakeholders—need, and have a right to demand.