As part of its 120th-year anniversary, The Star has honoured a husband and wife who have made a vital contribution to the South African newspaper world. Writing in The Star, Kevin Ritchie explains why a scholarship is being instituted to celebrate their combined 100 years of outstanding journalism.

Kevin Ritchie writes in The Star:

Fifty years ago, two young people would start their careers in newspapers; one would edit two newspapers and be the driving force on a further four, the other would make the transition from women's page editor to the top financial journalist of her generation.

They would meet, marry, have a family and change the lives of countless South African journalists over the next 50 years.

Dave Hazelhurst was the youngest-ever editor of the legendary Drum magazine and created, designed and drove the cutting-edge Sunday Star.

He was the deputy editor of Golden City Post before it was sold to the Argus company, which closed it.

He was also deputy editor of the Sunday Express and then managing editor of the Rand Daily Mail before its owners closed it.

Along the way, he has chief-subbed and news-edited, and even been the convenor of the Ilford Press Photographers' award for an unprecedented seven consecutive years … on the personal intervention of The Star's late chief photographer Ken Oosterbroek and the South African Press Photographers' Association.

Ethel started as a caption writer on the Rand Daily Mail's social pages. She would become the women's page editor, and raise two children in the process, until one day she felt she needed a career change.

So she enrolled at Unisa to study economics. Armed with her credits from the university, she approached the Financial Mail to give her a chance. They did and in 1999 she entered the Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year award – and cleared the decks by winning the "best newcomer" category and the overall title of "financial journalist of the year".

She would make the "economy and industry" category of the competition her own, winning it a further four times in a row.

Ethel eventually retired from full-time journalism as surveys editor of the FM, but within 18 months she was back in the harness, this time at Business Report, where she was supposed to have been working as a mentor for young staff, but found herself writing the paper's front-page leads within days.

Today she continues to manage both and finally graduated from Unisa at the top of her class, having mastered economics, only to add linguistics to her degree.

Dave, like Ethel, has reinvented himself throughout his career. He made one serious attempt to follow his dream and settle on a Greek island to write a book back in the 1960s, but found himself in Fleet Street instead for a while, before venturing into the Mediterranean once more.

Within 10 months, Africa had called him back and he returned to the Golden City Post. He would go on to design and launch the Sunday Times' township edition, which is credited with bringing so-called "black news" into the main body of the biggest newspaper in the country, and started a trend countrywide.

He then became chief sub of the Rand Daily Mail and later deputy editor on the Sunday Express before returning to the Mail where he was managing editor until its close.
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Dave, while a young student at Wits, had wanted to join The Star in 1956, but was told to wait until the January of the following year to apply for the paper's cadet school.

He didn't want to wait that long, so his father, a newspaper compositor, spoke to his friend who was a senior proof reader on the Mail, who knew the news editor. And that was how the young Hazelhurst began his career.

Dave became editor of the Sunday Star in 1991, totally revamping, redesigning and refocussing the paper, taking it at least a decade ahead of its time.

The paper was closed just after the watershed 1994 elections and months before the Argus group was sold to its current owners, Independent Newspapers.

Dave became creative director of The Star in 1995, a post which he still holds today.

It is perhaps here, more than at any time in his career, that he has been at his most dynamic, introducing the concept of a unified writing, editing and design approach to newspapering and championing narrative journalism.

Dave has introduced countless young journalists to the rigours of narrative journalism, helping conceptualise stories and shepherding them through to their execution and projection.

It is an endeavour that has borne much fruit, winning the writers and photographers involved the highest honours journalistically, both at home and abroad.

He is an incredibly hard taskmaster, but, as he says, the person he is hardest on is himself. He says there is nothing that compares to the thrill he gets when "people do great work".

It is this passion that has run like a thread for the last 51 years in his life, one that has seen people like legendary photographer Alf Khumalo, writers Nat Nakasa, Can Themba, Casey Motsisi and Stan Motsuadi, and fellow editors Joe Thloloe and Jon Qwelane, to name but a few, proud to count Dave as their friend and mentor.

Today, he and Ethel sit at the centre of a network of journalists, photographers and subeditors, some of whom go back 50 years, others that go back six months, some of whom still live in South Africa, others who live in the four corners of the globe, with whom they maintain and sustain close professional friendships.

All of which goes a little way to explaining why The Star has decided to honour the Hazelhursts with a perpetual scholarship in both their names.

Announced last night, the annual Dave and Ethel Hazelhurst scholarship will allow a young graduate to study a BA (Hons) degree in journalism at the Wits School of Journalism and, on the successful completion of this programme, work at The Star as an intern before making their own road into the world of journalism.

*This article first appeared in The Star on October 18, 2007.