KENYA: 13 JHR-trained journalists honored at Annual Journalism Excellence Awards

By Muthoni Njoroge – Kenya                                                                     

May 6 was a night of celebration, glitz and glamour for journalists in Kenya during The Media Council of Kenya’s 10th Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA).

The celebrations, held at The Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, brought together the crème de la crème in the media industry, key media stakeholders and government representatives to recognized journalists for their much-needed stories on key issues.

Journalists for Human Rights-Kenya had a reason to celebrate after a number of JHR-trained journalists received awards in various categories in a tough competition, which recorded 1,240 entries. Their work was recognized as exemplary, balanced, unique and change driven.

JHR-trained journalists recognized for their exemplary work include Serfine Achieng’ of KBC who won the Health Reporting TV category for her story ‘Stolen dignity’. The story focused on corrective surgery for fistula victims. Lourdes Walusala of KBC English Service won the Innovation & Business Reporting Radio category for her story ‘Recovery of women-led SMEs’. Nancy Agutu of The Star newspaper won the Development Reporting Print category for her story ‘Mentoring girls to rise above teen pregnancies’.

Tebby Otieno of Talk Africa won the Gender Reporting Digital category for her story on ‘Resilience of deaf mothers amidst Covid-19’. She also took the 1st runners-up in the Agriculture & Food Security Digital category for her story ‘Women farmers in Machakos County turn to agro-ecology for food security’. Tebby also scooped the 2nd runners-up in the Special Topic category – Big Four Agenda Digital, for her story ‘How Covid-19 gave Murang’a County its first ICU’.

Another winner for the night was Caren Sisya of North Rift Radio who bagged the top position in the Gender Reporting Radio category for her story ‘Changamoto za wanawake uongozini’ (Challenges women in leadership face). She also got the 2nd runners-up position in the Sports Reporting Radio category for her story on ‘Walemavu na riadha’ (The physically disabled & sports). Isaac Waihenya of Radio Jangwani won the Special Topic category – Big Four Agenda Radio for his story titled ‘Community health volunteers transforming lives in pastoralists communities’. He also scooped the 2nd runners-up in the Special Topic category – Mental Health & Wellness Radio, where his story on ‘Effects of climate change on mental health’ got recognition.

Other JHR-trained journalists who took home awards were Albert Mwadime of Sifa FM-Marsabit who got the 1st runners-up position in the Health Reporting Radio category for his story ‘Athari za ukame kwa afya na lishe bora’ (Effects of drought on health and proper nutrition). He also got the 2nd runners-up in the Gender Reporting Radio for his feature story on ‘Makala ya ndoa za mapema Marsabit’ (Early marriages in Marsabit).

Ruth Keah of Radio Rahma bagged the top position in the ICT & Telecommunications Reporting Radio category with her story, ‘Gharama ya mawasiliano kwa watu wenye changamoto ya matamshi’ (The cost burden the deaf & dumb persons face in tele-communication). She also got the 1st runner-up position in the Innovation & Business Reporting Radio category for her feature ‘Programu ya rununu inavyosaidia watu wenye ulemavu kupata ajira’ (How TV programme is assisting persons living with disabilities get job opportunities). Ruth also got a third award for the night after she scooped the 1st runners-up position in the Sports Reporting Radio category for her story ‘Mohammed Munga – aupuuza ulemavu na kung’aa kimataifa kwenye mchezo wa soka’ (Mohammed Munga – Overcoming physical disability to shine in international football).

JHR-trained journalists continued to bring the awards home with Pamoja FM’s Henix Obuchunju taking the overall position in the Podcast of the Year Radio category for the story ‘Afya Chachu’ (Medical negligence). He also won the Special Topic Category – Big Four Agenda Digital category for the story, ‘News dirty toilets blamed for increase in UTI cases in Kibra, but the narrative is changing’. Moraa Obiria of Nation Digital got the 2nd runners-up position in the Gender Reporting Digital category for her story ‘Inside the Kenya-Tanzania cross-border FGM’. She was also the 1st runners-up in the Development Reporting Digital; category for her story ‘Why Kitale men are warming up to kangaroo mother care’.

Gardy Chacha of Standard Group won the 1st runners-up position in the Gender Reporting Print category for his story on ‘Surgery enables circumcised women to enjoy sexually stimulated lives’. Gardy also won the Agriculture & Food Security Print category for the story, ‘Why livestock bill was a sting to small beekeepers’. Elizabeth Angira of Africa News got the 2nd runners-up in the Agriculture & Food Security Digital category for her story ‘Finger millet crop for an ‘uncertain’ future & a solution to food security’. She also took the 2nd runner-up position in the Sports Reporting Digital category on her story, ‘Sports the next frontier for the girl child’. Linah Mwamachi of Sifa FM in Voi won in the Agriculture & Food Security Radio category for her story, ‘Umwagiliaji asili waongeza zao la mpunga ozi Tana River (Irrigation farming has boosted rice production in Tana River). Linah also bagged the Press Freedom Pen Radio category top position for her story ‘Suluhu ya afya ya akili kwa wanahabari’ (Mental health care for journalists).

Also recognized during the 2022 Annual Journalists Excellence Awards was JHR’s Training of Trainers, Rachael Nakitare of KBC. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Broadcast Producer, Editor.

In this year’s awards, it is notable that the top three awards were presented to female journalists. This is a remarkable achievement indicative of the progress of gender mainstreaming in the media. JHR’s project in Kenya, Voice for Women & Girls, has been keen on supporting gender mainstreaming in media houses in Kenya and the excellent achievement by the three female journalists is an indication that with support, women have the ability to excel in the journalism profession. Naipanoi Lepapa of The Elephant, Purity Mwambia of Citizen TV and Peris Gachari of Africa Uncensored won the Journalist of The Year Award.

Those who won were presented with a trophy and certificate and are expected to receive monetary prizes. The awards came a few days after journalists celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 3 under the theme, “Journalism under Digital Siege”.

A day before the awards event, journalists held a media summit at the same hotel where speakers called for more freedom of the press, especially as the country approaches the August 9 General Election.

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