Henry Jeffreys

Henry Jeffreys


Henry John James Jeffreys (born 30 April 1955) is a prominent South African journalist and is currently the chief in editor of Die Burger newspaper, effective since June 1 2006. He was previously the deputy editor for The Beeld newspaper, and currently serves as a deputy chairperson on The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF). As the first black editor of a newspaper that was once a mouthpiece for Afrikaner Nationalism in the Apartheid era, his position is viewed as “a measure of the immensity of change in South Africa” [1]

Personal information

Jeffreys was born in Reiger Park, a coloured township in Boksburg, South Africa on 30 April 1955. In high school he pursued an amateur career in theatre for eight years. Though he did not pursue any tertiary education after high school, he was actively involved in school societies and sports clubs. His subsequent career as a journalist began in the early 1980s when he was offered the position of deputy editor for Die Beeld Extra, a segment of Die Beeld catering to the coloured community of the time. After complications arose, he left to pursue an alternative career in foundation development in South Africa. He returned to Die Beeld as deputy editor of the newspaper in 1999 and went on to become the first black editor of Die Burger newspaper. At the moment he is in the process of writing two books, one fictional and one non-fictional, based on his own life experiences.

Career information

Jeffreys first job was working as an actor in an amateur company that put on plays in both English and Afrikaans. He was notably involved in the first theatrical play, done in Afrikaans, to be put on at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg; a play called Siener in Die Suburbs. After meeting his wife Brenda in the 1980’s , he left the company and soon afterwards started working as a journalist with Die Beeld Extra. When he left Die Beeld extra in 1985, he had been working as the news paper’s editor. He then spent the next 14 years involved in several development foundations before returning as deputy editor of Die Beeld, in 1999. Jeffreys left Die Beeld in 2003 after being awarded the Niemand Fellowship and spent the next two years studying at Harvard University. On his return to South Africa he was convinced to take up the post of acting editor in chief of Die Burger. He was officially given the post on 27 April 2006. He currently still holds this post.

Recognitions and awards

Henry Jeffreys has accomplished a lot in his past but one of his major accomplishments is to be the first black editor for the Afrikaans newspaper Die Burger in 2007. Prior to working as an editor for Die Burger newspaper, Jeffreys worked as deputy editor of Die Beeld newspaper as well as formally being a Nieman Scholar. He is recognised for being elected as deputy chairperson of the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF). Jeffreys is highly recognised amongst many individuals as he is a good example of all the positive changes that are currently happening in the South African media newspaper industry. Jeffreys is an inspiration to many who face challenges that need to be overcome as he himself did.

Other professional activities
Apart from being the first black editor for Die Burger Henry Jeffery has had a diverse and colourful professional career. It all began with an amateur acting profession. But he soon realised that as a career it was not necessarily a viable vocation which he discovered soon after he met his wife. After awhile journalism became his passion once he moved onto Die Beeld extra which was a section of the paper that catered more specifically to the coloured community in the Transvaal during the apartheid era. He then went on to become the first black editor for Die Burger. Other activities involving Jeffrey include his role as the deputy chair of SANEF (South African National Editors Forum). He was also awarded the Niemans Scholarship at Harvard which is the oldest midcareer fellowship.


Henry Jeffrey was known to have come into conflict and disagreement with his editor whilst working at Die Beeld extra for his over politicised stance and approach to journalism. He has be seen to embody what certain conservative nationalists readers of Die Beeld feel an unsatisfactory change in the newspaper direction although this change in direction came before his appointment as editor.

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