There has seldom been a greater force of nature than Bettina Peters in the world of international media development.
A steely mind and no-nonsense cheerfulness ensured she breezed through any professional challenge – from devising a multi-year media development programme for journalists across several countries to moderating an international conference.
Her formidable knowledge and skills played a key part in promoting the fortunes of the Thomson Foundation after she joined as director of development in 2012.
The same fighting spirit which drove her professional success meant that when she was diagnosed with a painful, debilitating illness in 2015, she defied all medical odds to survive for five years.
Characteristically, she retained a keen interest in the foundation’s projects – remaining as a senior consultant to provide crucial advice and mentoring for colleagues, drawing on her decades of experience supporting press freedom and the work of journalists.
Bettina was an exceptional person with impressive determination and energy. Her passing is a great loss to the foundation.
From 1990 to 2002, she set up and led the International Federation of Journalists’ projects division in Brussels and promoted media development, capacity building for journalists’ organisations and the IFJ’s gender equality work.
She then moved to the European Journalism Centre in Maastricht to oversee its strategic development, and ran major journalism training projects in Ukraine, Belarus, Tunisia and the southern Mediterranean.
Her next move, in 2007, was to the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) as its director, before joining the Thomson Foundation.
For her unwavering commitment to journalism support and the media development sector, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by GFMD in 2016, collected by her husband, Aidan, at the World Press Freedom Day UNESCO conference in Helsinki.
David Quin, her successor as director of development at Thomson Foundation, and close friend, said journalism had lost a “devoted and tireless champion.”
“She was inspirational to work with – brimming with ideas, full of fun and always showing strong leadership for her colleagues and the profession of journalism.”
Mark Knight, deputy chairman of the foundation, said: “Not only was she a thoroughly nice person, she was an exceptional person with impressive determination and energy. Her passing is a great loss to the team and the foundation.”
Bettina died in London on September 10th, 2020.
About: Nigel has overall responsibility for the delivery of the foundation’s programmes and budgets, as well as advising its board of trustees on strategy. His background is in the news industry, both as a journalist and as a manager of international news agencies.