The inaugural journalists of the year awards organized by the Media Council of Kenya went out on 3 May at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi. But despite the pomp and colour at the well-attended awards gala, there was muted criticism of the low standards of journalism in the country. Kenyans remain the continent’s most feted journalists.
Yet, despite the controversial history of the awards, it was a stamp of endorsement that the organisers could stage the awards and receive nearly 700 entries on the first year. However, many of the entries were adjudged substandard and only half of the categories were awarded in a rigorous two-step sieving exercise by two different independent panels of judges. Some prominent journalists did not enter this year’s awards, which analysts attributed to the skepticism that has attended past awards. The organisers also did not seem to have carried out sufficient sensitization about the return of the awards.
Unlike the past, the process of selecting the winners was thorough and transparent.
First, a nominations panel of eight judges spent five days sifting through the entries to shortlist finalists in each category. Some of the entries that did not make the bar were eliminated and in some instances entire award categories dropped for low, poor or substandard entries. The first panel of judges comprised seasoned media practitioners and trainers Caleb Atemi, Njoroge Mwaura, Isaiah Cherutich, Joy Mweni, Mundia Muchiri, Aileen Kimutai, Martha Mbugguss and Luke Njeru Nyaga. The finalists in each category were passed on to the final team of eight judges, comprising Joe Kadhi, Cathy Kyuna, Christine Nguku, Joseph Nyanoti, Jared Obuya, Rebecca Muniu, Greg Adambo, and David Makali.
The winning entries were were picked against a professional score card of accuracy, fairness, sourcing, creativity, presentation style; depth of content in reporting a subject or issue; and uniqueness or originality and impact of the story.
Cameramen and cartoonists were assessed on clarity of the images, creativity in taking /capturing images, impact or potency of the pictures, enterprise, and adherence to the ethical standards of good taste and morality.
The chair of the panel of judges, David Makali, observed that many entries did not meet the bar set for the awards, leading to some categories being disqualified altogether. The judges urged the organisers to trim down and merge some of the categories to make the awards “leaner, neater and more prestigious”. They deplored the low standards of radio journalism, which they said has been trivilaised into comedy and infotaiment, and the declining standards of investigative journalism in print media.
KTN’s investigative journalist Mohammed Ali emerged the overall winner for his expose on drug trafficking and the complicity of the state in protecting drug barons. His story, Parwanja la Mihadarati, broadcast on KTN’s Jicho Pevu series also won him the television reporter of the year award. Runners-up were John Allan Namu (NTV) for his Loliondo Wonder series on the Tanzanian pastor and his sensational wonder drug; and Gisesa Nyambega (Nation) for an exclusive story about a radical Kenyan sheikh who joined al Shabab and declared a jihad on his motherland.
Full list of winners:
JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR 2012
i. ICT and telecommunications
Radio: John Nene for his story about Robert Mburu who, using his telecommunications skills, invented what he calls “Security Master” that could detect and respond to security threats beyond the normal CCTV camera to the great relief and approval of residents of Nakuru (BBC).
Television: Andrew Ochieng & Mathenge Goko for their story about how using kindles and e-books in primary school that revolutionalised learning at Ntimigom Primary School in Kilgoris as broadcast on Citizen TV. Story Title: Kilgoris Pupils go HiTech
Anthony Gitonga for his story about how on how villagers were using smartphones to send information on water levels in Turkana to drought monitoring experts, published in The Standard.
Story title: Smartphones bleep to the rescue of drought stricken Turkana
- ii) Children and youth affairs Award
Print: Joe Kiarie for his two-part series on sex tourism involving underage girls published in the Standard newspaper.
Television: Rose Wangui for a set of stories on young men who had turned their lives around from crime to being productive in society and another about women in Lugari who have taken on jobs that would normally be considered the preserve of men, all broadcast on NTV.
Story titles: Kibera Former Gangsters, Lugari Brick Woman
Media house: NTV
- i. Science and Environment Award
Print: Wanjohi Kabukuru - story on banned pesticides that are harmful to the environment and an expose on the destruction of the sand dunes of Lamu, all published in Diplomat East Africa
iv. Health and Terminal Diseases Award
Television: John Allan Namu & Robert Gichira – for the Loliondo Wonder - a special report on 76 year-old former Lutheran Priest, Ambilikile Mwasipile, and his wonder concoction that he says can cure every ailment from Diabetes to HIV. Broadcast on NTV
Print: Joy Wanja for her story on the neglect and state of the Kenya Kenya Medical Technical College, the only middle-level medical institution, all published in the Nation newspaper
- v. Gender Reporting Award
Print: Caroline Wafula for her story on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) highlighting the painful experience of Nominated Member of Parliament, Sophia Abdi Noor published in the Sunday Nation. Story title: memories of my circumcision have haunted me to date.
Broadcast: Josephine Maina for her story with a difference – Men under siege - an expose of the “unusual” domestic violence against men in Nyeri in the series “Men under Siege, as broadcast on K24.
vi. Sports Award
Jonathan Komen for his story on young men and women who defy the odds in rural places to become athletics stars and still manage to excel in school as evidenced by a 22-member squad to the seventh IAAF, published in the Daily Nation.
Stories titles: International Sports Giants take their rivalry to examination hall, youth seek to retain title as coach says squad is best ever, where steeplechase starts
- vii. Arts, Culture and travel Award
Print: Nicholas Anyuor for an array of stories on various cultural practices in Nyanza province dating as far back as 50 years published in the Standard newspaper.
Stories Titles: NAK, The ultimate test of courage for a Luo youth, Centre on Mission to preserve culture
Television: Lulu Hassan & Moses Baya (KTN) for a detailed report on the immorality of young African men and women who find themselves in unorthodox relationships with senile foreign tourists just to make a living or prey on them for inheritance.
Stories title: Kiza Cha Starehe
- viii. Photographer of the Year Award
The winner: Collins Kweyu for a pack of three entries that included an exclusive picture of an eight-year-old boy who had been handcuffed and manhandled in a police crackdown on illicit brews only for the police to realize they did not have the keys to the handcuffs and had to walk to the station to unlock them and release the boy. Published in the Standard newspaper.
Picture Titles: “This, for ‘aiding’ crime, Multipurpose Tool, Mututho Law suspect?
- ix. Cartoonist of the Year Award
Victor Amatieku alias Vic Ndula for his series of illustrations/caricatures that told the story without captions, published in The Star newspaper.
Cartoons presented: the world marks international Women’s Day, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto engage Raila Odinga in a war of words over ICC Indictments.
- x. Business Award
Abel Kabiru for his stories on the credibility of the governor of the central bank and another on how the country is losing revenue through the sale of counterfeit products published in Think Business magazine.
Story Titles: Governor Under Siege, Litmus Test for CBK Governor, How the Economy is losing to counterfeits
- xi. Good governance Award
Radio: Kioko Kivandi (Radio Amani, a community radio station) for his series of reports on internally displaced people in Rift Valley from 2007/2008 who had been relocated to Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in Uganda and their reflections of the root causes of the inter-ethnic conflict.
Stories title: Tohara La Lazima, Kilio cha Wamaasai, Kilio kutoka Uganda
Television: Judy Kosgei/Justus Onyango of Citizen TV for their feature story “Loads of Impunity” about matatus that never get full in Kisii. The habit of overloading passengers and defying road safety rules is a display of bad governance.
Story title: Loads of Impunity
- xii. Developmental Award
Print: Joseph Wambugu for his stories on the production and processing of tea and how it is powering slum areas with a constant supply of electricity, published in the ‘Development Agenda’ insert in the ‘The People newspaper.
Story titles: London Cup of tea brewed in Nyeri, Power project to fade out slum problems
Television: Francis Mutegi and cameraman Stephen Mwei for his story about five Maasai women “solar engineers” who underwent training on solar energy in India and returned to light up their houses despite never having undergone any formal education before. Broadcast on NTV.
Stories Titles: Solar Sisters
- xiii. Young journalist of the Year Award
Television: JOB MWAURA (Citizen TV) for his memorable two-part series dubbed “Kitoweo Tataninishi” that unearthed the unpalatable truth about the vegetables many Nairobi residents consume that are grown on sewerage.
Story title: Kitoweo Tatanishi
Print: Frankline Sunday for a series of stories on the search for gold in Western Kenya and on Tobacco farmers who were not satisfied with the new rates for tobacco set by the manufacturing companies. Published in Business Daily.
Stories titles: Tobacco farmers turn up the heat against cigarette companies, Villagers count deadly cost of search for elusive gold in pits of death.
- xiv. Reporter of the Year
Television - Mohammed Ali for his nerve-wracking investigative story into the criminal ring of drug trafficking, murder and impunity among law enforcement agencies and official complicity in the mysterious murder of ACP Chemworei broadcast on KTN Jicho Pevu.
Story title: Parawanja La Mihadarati
Print: Nyambega Gisesa for his exclusive story on a jihadist named Ahmed Iman who despite being born to a Meru father and a Kamba mother, transformed into a radical Muslim preacher and an Al Shabaab Commander. The story detailed his progression to radicalism, disappearance late 2008 and return shortly after to declare a jihad against Kenya. The story, Published in the Daily Nation, stood out because it was thorough and written by a non-Muslim.
Story title: What happened to this man?
- xv. Cameraman of the Year
Winner: Mauritius Odour for demonstrating, through a series of images, the keen eye that captures details and separates him from the ordinary camera crew.
News Clips on: “Operation Linda Nchi”, drought in Turkana
- xvi. Television News Anchor of the Year
Smriti Vidyarthi - Mohindra of NTV for her arresting presence, engaging character, command of news, calm presentation and superior live interviewing skills.
- xvii. Journalist of the year
In recognition of his extra ordinary initiative, drive, courage and consistency in the pursuit of rare and dangerous stories that have impacted society, expanded the horizons of journalism and set the pace for investigative journalism, the 2012 journalist of the Year is Mohammed Ali for his “Parawanja la Mihadarati”.
2nd Runner up - Nyambega Gisesa
1st Runner Up - John Allan Namu