|Born||10 March 1933|
Cathcart, Eastern Cape, South Africa
|Died||19 September 2016 (aged 83)|
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Occupation||Journalist and editor|
|Employer||Rand Daily Mail|
|Known for||his editorship Rand Daily Mail during the 1970s|
Allister Haddon Sparks (10 March 1933 - 19 September 2016) was a South African writer, journalist, and political commentator. He was the editor of The Rand Daily Mail when it broke Muldergate, the story of how the apartheid government secretly funded information projects.
He was born in Cathcart, Eastern Cape, to father Harold Sparks, a farmer and mother Bernice Stephen. The Sparks family were descendants of the English 1820 Settlers that settled that area of the Cape. He was educated at Queen's College in Queenstown.
Allister Sparks began his journalism career at the Queenstown Daily Representative in 1951. In 1955, he reported for the Bulawayo Chronicle in Rhodesia. He worked as an editor under Donald Woods, who was editor-in-chief at the East London Daily Dispatch from 1956-1957. Afterwards, he worked for the Reuters news agency in Britain. He was a journalist for Rand Daily Mail and then a columnist in the 1960s. Sparks was later the editor of the Sunday Express. The highlight of his career was his editor position at the Rand Daily Mail. He worked for the Rand Daily Mail since 1967 as an editor and was let go when the board decided to target a white audience. He followed his position as an editor by working as a correspondent with top-level newspapers, including The Washington Post'', The Observer (UK), and NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands.
Sparks later wrote a number of critically acclaimed books on South Africa's transition from apartheid, including The Mind of South Africa (1991), Tomorrow Is Another Country (1996), and more recently Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa (University of Chicago Press 2006). Sparks also wrote the book First Drafts (2008), as well as Tutu: The Authorised Portrait of Desmond Tutu, with a Foreword by His Holiness The Dalai Lama written with Tutu's daughter, and published in 2011 for Tutu's 80th birthday.
Sparks founded the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in South Africa and was its executive director from 1992 to 1997. The IAJ has focused on the education of African journalists and fostering better communication between professionals across the continent.
He won the Louis M. Lyons Award while with The Observer
In 1996: The Media Institute of Southern Africa presented Allister Sparks with its Press Freedom Award. According to MISA,
It was during his tenure at the Rand Daily Mail in the late 1970s that Allister distinguished himself as a journalist of great valour and strength, willing to stick his neck out for a story even though it might have reached into the deep echelons of government.
He was the first South African journalist to receive the award.