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High stake for investigative journalism at CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards

By Margaret Mwantok   |   17 October 2016   |   2:32 am
Finalists for 2016 edition

Finalists for 2016 edition

Investigative reporting as journalism practice is highly rewarding. Such report does not only attract commendation locally and internationally, it also stands it author out boldly. Through it, the journalist seeks to protect the public interest by uncovering and publicising the whole truth about any issue in any sphere of life.

As a product of investigation, the report always reflects a systematic and painstaking gathering and verification of information from official and non-official sources as well as from offline and online media in order that he/she might obtain and narrate credible and dependable evidence in support of his or her claims about the truth. And in the last 21 years, two international media platforms – CNN and a pay TV subscription company, Multichoice – have joined forces to reward exceptional performance through investigative reporting by journalists across Africa.

Tagged CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards, the 2016 edition of the reward scheme held on Saturday night in Johannesburg, South Africa had three Nigerian journalists among the winners.

Yemisi Akinbobola and Ogechi Ekeanyanwu’s work with Paul Bradshaw, Follow the Money was adjudged the best in the sports category. Chika Oduah, who practices journalism in Kenya, won the Dow Technology and Innovation Reporting category with her story, ‘The app that saved 1, 000 children’ on lead poisoning in Northern Nigeria.

Two Kenyans, Asha Ahmed and Rashid Idi won the coveted prize of African Journalist of the Year.

Other winners are Jay Caboz from Mozambique (Energy & Infrastructure);  Badossessi Appolinaire Agoinon of Benin Republic (Francophone General News, Broadcasting).

Faten Hayed of Algeria (Francophone General News, Print); Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler, Diana Neille and Sumeya Gasa of South Africa (Economic &Business); IMia Malan of South Africa (Features); Veronica Naskwor Kwabla of Ghana  (Health & Medical); James Oatway of South Africa (Mohammed Amin Photographic); Bob Ruguriika of Burundi (Press Freedom); and John Grobler, Namibia and Fiona Macleod of South Africa (Environment).

Yet other winners are Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashi Idi of Kenya (News Impact);  Ati Metwaly of Egypt (Culture); Fidelto Emidio Bata of Mozambique (Portuguese Language General News, Electronic Media); Bento Venanco of Mozambique Portugese Language General News, Print); and Ancillar Mangena of South Africa (Maggi Eales Young Journalist Award). The winners emerged from 38 finalists who were picked from 1,637 entries.

The finalists were: Adedayo Eriye Oketola (Nigeria); Ancillar Mamgena (South Africa); Asha Ahmed Nwilu amd Rashid Idi (Kenya); Ati Metwaly (Egypt); Bento Venancio (Mozambique); Bifossessi Appolinaire Agoinon (Benin Republic); Chebiote Kigen (Kenya); Chika Oduah  (Nigeria); Cleofas Viagem (Mozambique); Conan Daniel Businge and Gerald Tenywa (Uganda); and Coulibaly Zoumana (Cote d’Ivoire).

Others are Diana Neille, Sumeya Gasa, Richard Poplak and Shaun Swingler (South Africa); Dominic Omondi (Kenya); Eromo Egbejule (Nigeria); Faten Haye (Algeria); Fidelto Emidio Bata (Mozambique); Folashade Adebayo (Nigeria); Garreth Van Niekerk (South Africa); Isaac Otidi Amuke (Kenya); James Oatway (South Africa); Jay Canboz (South Africa); Jean-Luc Emile (Mauritius); John Grobler (Namibia) and Fiona Macleod (South Africa).
Other finalists are, Lawrence Seretse (Botswana); Mia Malan (South Africa); Teresa Fuquiadi (Angola); Veronica Narkwor Kwabla (Ghana); Veroniva Nuchi (Nigeria); Yemisi Akinbobola, Ogechi Ekeanyanwu and Paul Bradshaw (Nigeria).

While congratulating the finalists at the awards presentation ceremony, Tony Maddox, executive VP and MD, CNN International said: “To be one of 37 finalists from over 1600 entries is no mean feat.” Greg Beitchman, VP, Content Sales And Partnerships CNN International said: “as a journalist by trade myself, I take a personal interest in recognising the brave and intelligent journalism on show at the awards.”

He added: “I am particularly proud that the overall winner will be joining our team in Atlanta on the celebrated CNN journalism fellowship scheme – a unique programme for our partners and affiliates that immerses participants in the DNA of CNN and shares our new techniques and values. At CNN, we firmly believe that we have a role to play in developing journalism beyond our platforms and I couldn’t be more proud in our involvements in these awards and our continued work in content development and training world over.”

Mark Rayner, CEO, MultiChoice South Africa said: “Although every citizen can tell a story, not everyone is a journalist. And not every journalist meets the standard of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the year awards.” He added: “In the past 21 years, these awards have helped a number of journalists grow in their careers, it has amplified the voices of these journalists and shown that Africa is truly rising on the international stage.”

Tim Jacobs, CEO of MultiChoice Africa explained: “This year awards saw a record number of entries from a total of 38 countries from across the continent. This is a testament to the strength of these awards and what they represent to African journalism, showing an appetite for Africa to tell its own compelling stories.” He said: “we remain committed to giving recognition to outstanding African media whose tireless work and search for the truth may otherwise not receive the recognition it deserves.”

Ferial Haffajee, head of a panel of 11 judges which includes The Guardian’s Debo Adesina was impressed by the expansion in scope and content. She noted: “happily, innovation in the coverage of the new and exciting developments in science, business, health and culture, is coming to prominence as the continent’s generation of shape-shifters rises.

The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist competition is renowned as the most prestigious and respected award for journalists across the African continent. Its objective is to reinforce the importance of the role of journalists in Africa’s development and to reward, recognise and encourage journalistic talent across all media disciplines.

Certainly, the initiative has grown in leaps and bounds while fostering stiff competition from the participating countries as evident in this year’s edition. It has also raised the need for higher media investment by media owners in investigative reports. For instance, Mr. Frank Aigbogun of the BusinessDay who was present at the awards said, “I have learnt a lot coming here and I can tell you right away that I am going to create a desk for this purpose as soon as I get home.” Some of Nigerian journalists who had won the coveted prize of African Journalist of the Year include, Declan Okpaleke; Ibiba Don Pedro (both of The Guardian); and Toyosi Ogunseye (of the Punch).

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