NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4- Journalists have been hailed for resilience amid challenges that range from safety concerns to the global COVId-19 pandemic and a wave of fake news.
Speaking during the Media Council of Kenya’s Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA), acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu noted that journalists deserve to be appreciated, for the role they have played in exposing social ills like society.
She, however, challenged journalists to guard their independence and resist attempts to be externally influenced, while reporting.
“It is a period during which we express appreciation for you the media for the importance of service and the role you play in our society,” she said, “there is the need for all actors, public and private to support and strengthen a vibrant media.”
More than 60 journalists from various media houses were recognized for excelling in their work. 18 won in various categories.
MCK Chairperson Maina Muiruri also acknowledged efforts by journalists to enhance professionalism among them the formation of groups like the newly launched Crime Journalists Association of Kenya (CJAK).
“Why we award these winners, it is because we want them to excel. We want them to be the best in where they practice. These days, we have journalists congregating together with identity. The other day we launched the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya. We are having journalists realizing they do better when they are specialised and we are here at the end of every year, to award you when you excel,” he said.
“With the new digital age, competition has become harder for journalists. Journalists do better when they specialize. We congratulate those who have won, and AJEA will continue honoring your achievements,” he said.
The Council’s Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo said the awards are meant to boost the morale of journalists, currently working under pressure and threats.
“We have 18 winners from an initial pool of 1,119. Judges have spent day and night to bring out the best. There is a lot of technological revolution and pandemic of fake news but during all this, we have seen high-quality pieces of journalism,” Omwoyo said.
KTN’s Timothy Otieno was named the 2021 Journalist of the Year, after winning the Governance Reporting Award in the television category.
In the ICT and Telecommunications reporting, Faustine Mailu from the Daily Nation newspaper was the overall winner while Mercy Murengu won the radio category.
Murengu also won the Business and Financial reporting Category Award, radio category.
In the Print and Investigative Reporting, Beatrice Kangai won for her for her story “Smuggled.”
For the Development Reporting Award, Maurice Oniang’o was declared the winner in the television category.
Shadrak Odinga of Ruben FM won the Sports Reporting Award, radio category.
Daniel Kaburu of Mediamax Network Limited bagged the Environment Report Award, television category.
Ruth Keah of Radio Rahma was the Journalist of the Year Radio category.
The Lifetime Contribution in Journalism Award went to Yahya Mohammed, a retired photojournalist.
Cameraperson of the year award went to BBC Africa’s journalist Eugene Osidiana.
Beatrice Kangai, an online sub-editor at Nation Media Group, emerged Journalist of the Year for her investigative story, “Smuggled from Nairobi to Johannesburg”.
Nation Media Group’s Paul Wafula won two awards; his environmental story titled “Rotting from the deep: The tragedy that is Lake Victoria” won him the Environmental Reporting Award while the business story titled “Billions, bullets and bravado: The untold story of SportPesa” earned him the Business and Financial Reporting Award.
Dennis Okari (NTV) won the Health Reporting Award for his ‘Red alert’ story, which featured supermarket staff injecting chemicals into meat to preserve it longer.
Other winners from the Nation Media Group include Bernardine Mutanu who won the Covid-19 Reporting Award for the story “What cold season means for Covid-19” while Faustine Ngila bagged the ICT and Telecommunications Reporting Award for the story “Just a click away: Apps bring doctors to your home”.
Cellestine Olilo’s sports story titled “From Iten to the world: a pursuit of cycling glory, success” won her the Sports Reporting Award.
Daily Nation’s revise editor Dorothy Kweyu won the Lifetime Achievement Award.