South African journalists excel at CNN awards

13 October 2015

Four South African journalists have won CNN African Journalist Awards, held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Kenya, Nairobi. The awards recognised and awarded 32 African journalists, drawn from over 1 400 entries from 39 African countries.

Photographer Herman Verwey from the Beeld newspaper won the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award for his photos taken during the murder trial of the Paralympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius.

“When you look at Herman Verwey’s work, for a second, you can wonder. the characters are so full of life, these pictures really give you a sense of their feelings. Herman’s body of work gives also a proper idea of the high pressure that surrounded this trial, so important for the South African society,’ said the judges of their choice of this year’s winner.

The awards were handed out on Saturday evening, 10 October.

Sarah Wild from the Mail & Guardian newspaper won the Technology & Innovation Reporting Award for her story, “Robot”, on the environmental testing of the health of the oceans’ “lungs” in relation to effects of global warming.

Judges highlighted the article’s intuitive and simple tone in communicating the technicalities of the subject matter, saying: “Sarah Wild delivered an original report on a major innovation in research over global warming, conducted by a South African scientific team. It’s an excellent reminder that there are African-led research programs at the forefront of the climate change issue. Sarah Wild transports the reader into the heart of the project, with the team deploying this new generation of sea-cruising robots.”

Freelance documentary-makers Julie Laurenz and Jacqueline Jayamaha won in the Features Award category for their harrowing profile piece, “Viola’s Hope”, for the e-tv channel, about the effects of woonga drug addiction.

“Tragic. Educative. Committed. The team that brought us this piece spent over a month putting it together and they stayed with their story which was well-shot, produced and written,” said the judges.

Burkinabe journalist Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou won the top prize – African Journalist of the Year – for his piece, “Room 143”. Published in the Ouagadougou daily newspaper L’Observateur Paalga, the story covered the ousting of Blaise Campaore, who had ruled over Burkina Faso for 27 years.

“My story was about power and how people can fight against it – I’m so proud that the story has been told and will now be remembered,” said Sanou.

Keynote speaker for the event, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, paid tribute to the hard work journalists did to find the real stories of Africa. He asked that they do their best to continue to find the real “African truths” and reclaim the African story, so that they could tell global audiences of the success stories.

Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press newspaper, was this year’s chairperson of the judging panel. She paid tribute to the winners, saying the awards were recognition for a lot of sacrifices that journalists made to get their stories. “Journalism can be very dangerous, lonely,” Haffajee told the gathering.

Speaking on behalf of the hosts and sponsors of the event, Deborah Rayner, CNN senior vice-president for international news gathering, TV and digital, said that the winners demonstrated the very best of journalism, from investigative journalism through to stories of hope and change.

“I’ve seen tremendously courageous reporting, brilliantly innovative reporting and highly entertaining reporting,” added Tony Maddox, executive vice-president and managing director of CNN. “The awards really do cover the full panorama of all that is good in journalism.”

Source: News24