Nation Publications Limited (NPL) journalists swept 13 individual excellence awards at this year’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter awards in commemoration of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day.
During the gala award ceremony held on Saturday night at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe, Times Media Group won the Print Media House of the Year and Electronic Media House of the Year (Television) while Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) retained the Electronic Media House of the Year (Radio) and Electronic Media House of the Year (Online).
NPL features news analyst Albert Sharra retained the overall winner accolade with his story titled ‘Leaves in underwear’ which laid bare the harsh reality of how the pangs of poverty can impact on an adolescent girl when it comes to accessing reproductive health facilities.
Sharra, currently out of the country for further studies won two other awards, Pediatric&Adolescence HIV journalist of the year and Education Journalist of the year.
Another NPL news analyst, Rebecca Chimjeka, won in the category of business and economics whereas her colleague Bobby Kabango scored a hat-trick having won best photojournalist, Chichewa journalist and girlchild education category.
NPL Mzuzu Bureau supervisor Joseph Mwale led his team in scooping two awards on the night—safety and security and good governance categories—for his piece titled ‘Mpata, Mwabulambo people duped’.
Mzuzu-based NPL sports journalist Pledge Jali was named best sports journalist while Martha Chirambo, a business journalist also based in Mzuzu, won the infrastructure management best journalist whose inaugural award last year was won by her workmate Mercy Malikwa. Yet another Mzuzu-based NPL journalist John Chirwa went home with the Reporting Medicines Award.
Lilongwe-based NPL investigative journalist Golden Matonga was named Blogger of the Year during the Misa Malawi awards.
Columnist of the year award was won by The Sunday Times editor Madalitso Mussa while talk show host of the year went to Thomas Kachere of Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) FM.
During the awards, freelance journalist and columnist Brian Ligomeka also won three awards—Red Ribbon, tourism, and information and communications technology.
However, there were no recipients in two categories—Arts Journalist of the Year (electronic) and Lifetime Achiever.
In all, there were 32 categories for the awards.
Chief judge Wisdom Chimgwede said entries in arts sub-category of electronic media left a lot to be desired; hence, the judges declared that the category would have no winner.
He told the audience that included Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya and representatives of development partners: “In this category, the recordings were unnecessarily too long. This is not to say that news stories can’t be long, but then they have to be very exciting if they are to be that long.
“The style in which they were done was not appealing and the use of language wasn’t that good so much that judges reached a conclusion that this year there is no winning article amongst the entrants.”
In an interview after the awards, Chimgwede said that generally the quality of work being submitted for consideration for the awards has gone down.
He said there was urgent need for newsrooms in the country to address the quality of reporters’ work.
On life-time achiever, Chimgwede said there were simply no nominations for those to be awarded.
Earlier in the day, journalists held a freedom march from Sunbird Lilongwe through Paul Kagame Highway (formerly Chilambula Road) to Riverside Hotel where they held an annual general meeting (AGM). The key agenda item for the AGM, elections, was postponed to December to clear controversiy relating to the voters’ roll.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3. However, as the day fell during midweek, Misa-Malawi deferred the party to May 6.