M&G shines at yearly newspaper awards

The Mail & Guardian‘s investigative team of Sam Sole, Nic Dawes, Zukile Majova and Stefaans Brümmer were jointly awarded the Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Award for South African story of the year on Wednesday for their story “The Kebble-Selebi link”.

The quartet also won the award for best investigative journalism, and shared the award for South African story of the year with Business Day‘s Rob Rose, whose story titled “Kebble’s R2bn dodgy share deals” won the hard-news category.

The awards, under this year’s banner “Weapons of Mass Discussion” and held at the Sandton Hilton hotel, honoured the finest that South African newspaper journalism has to offer.

The judges noted that the winners of story of the year’s iconoclastic journalism “scrupulously unravelled the networks of intrigue and dubious deals, including the man’s connections with police chief Jackie Selebi. Their work highlighted the unsavoury links between money and politics, a near-institutionalised collaboration that poses a direct danger to both democracy and development.

“The reportage shows that where the state is unwilling or unable to guard against Kebble-esque trends, the media has risen to the responsibility.”

The M&G‘s Niren Tolsi received a commendation for his story “Still mixing” in the creative-writing category.

Independent Newspapers’ Bruce Cameron was adjudged journalist of the year. He was selected particularly for his work on the pension-fund scandal, which exposed the secret profits made by retirement-fund administration companies. No one enters for this category and the verdict is based on the judges’ review of all the work entered.

“He takes on corporate abuses with well researched information. His writing is independent, nuanced and analytical, even when covering news,” said Professor Guy Berger, judging-panel convener. “During 2006, he brought his expertise to bear by proactively, and almost single-handedly, conducting a penetrating investigation into hidden abuses in the pensions industry.

“By bringing this all to light, and in a sustained and wholly professional manner, Cameron is the single most deserving candidate of this award for the year.”

Veteran journalist and editor Raymond Louw was chosen as the 2007 recipient of the Mondi Shanduka Lifetime Achievement Award. “The octogenarian’s resolute and exemplary passion for the media, which he expressed boldly over his 60 years in print journalism and press freedom advocacy, earned Louw this premier award,” the judges said.

Still an active journalist, Louw edits the South Africa Report, thus continuing a career that began as a copyholder at the Rand Daily Mail back in 1944.

A total of 457 entries from 193 entrants were reviewed for the 2006 awards.

The winners of the 2007 Frewin, McCall & Joel Mervis Awards, which recognise newspaper excellence in all areas of disciplines—from advertising, print and production, layout and typography to the balance between the use of pictures and graphics—were also announced at Wednesday evening’s event.

The M&G won first place in the Joel Mervis competition with 99 points, followed by Naweek-Beeld with 90 points and City Press and the Saturday Star each with 84 points.

The judges said that “the M&G, winner for the second consecutive year, competed with the best in the world. The newspaper’s interesting mastheads, good quality production and photographic standards presented a strong visual package that was among the best in the category.”

M&G editor Ferial Haffajee said it is an honour to lead passionate journalists who believe in their craft and their country and who have an aesthetic sense to boot.

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