Award promoter laments sponsorship drought, journalists’ apathy
Organisers of Nigerian Media Merit Award (NMMA) recently announced entries to this year’s award ceremony to the public at its office at Ikeja GRA, Lagos. Chairman, Board of Trustees, NMMA, Mr. Vincent Maduka said the objective of the award was to promote excellence in media practice.
Drop in the sponsorship of some categories of the award as well as apathy of journalists to be part of the reward system, was of concern to the organisers of the awards. According to Maduka, “All the awards are sponsored by individuals or bodies with a keen interest in a category. We have dropped 10 sponsors on categories. Though we have been funding some categories from our own resources, we cannot afford to do so this year, but we are canvassing for sponsorship for those awards.”
Also speaking, Chairman, Panel of Assessors, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, who gave the breakdown of entries and categories, said, “We have a total of 886 entries from 648 entrants. For print, we have 772 entries from 558 entrants with 32 categories. For radio, we have 67 entries from 53 entrants with six categories. For television, we have 47 entries from 36 entrants with six categories. We have 43 categories at the moment. Some of the categories that have been dropped are Nicon Prize for Environmental Reporter of the Year, Intercontinental Prize for Capital Marketer of the Year, The Nigerian Port Authority Prize of Maritime Reporter of the Year, Aviation Industry Reporter of the Year, Beatrice Bassey Female Newspaper of the Year, Radio Production of the Year, Television Production of the Year and few others.”
Akinfeleye, however, lamented journalists’ lack of interest, commitment and unwillingness to submit entries, and noted, “This year, we have recorded 81.6 percent for the print media. Whereas, for the radio, only 7.6 per cent and for the television, it is worst, 5.3 per cent entries. On our last count, we have 453 radio and television stations in this country operating out of the 671 that have been licensed”.
He urged journalists to see the award as their own award and put in more effort to making it worthwhile. “We need media support in terms of structure of the concept, announcement and for coverage,” he said.
Maduka further stated that one of the challenges faced was being able to attract people (entries) from all over the country as most of the media outfits are concentrated in Lagos. He noted, “Most people might think that the award is a Lagos affair but it is a national call. For instance, there is hardly anybody from the east; south-south and south-east, and very few from the north but for Abuja. This year, we want to see how we can undertake some advertisements and media approach to attract more people.
We will have zonal offices so that we can diversify the collection of these entries”.
Maduka said funding was also a major challenge, as it costs a lot to maintain such high level event ceremony every year. “The money we have is split between funding the secretariat, which is minimal; funding the night of the award and processes leading to the night and making the award. We are an NGO; we rely entirely on donations, charities, endowments and so on. Another challenge is the quality of entries; we will like to see higher quality of entries so that the winners really stand out”.
On the selection processes, Akinfeleye noted, “The entries are being graded by five independent assessors, who would later meet to collate to find out who makes up to 70 per cent. We then package the result and give it to the board of trustees, which can either accept or reject our recommendation. The selection process is transparent and cumulative.”
Akinfeleye maintained that the date and venue of the ceremony would to be announced later, as NMMA awaits confirmation from the host state.
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