Nine from SA in line for top journalism award

The 26 finalists for the 2007 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year award were announced this week, with nine of them from South Africa, representing the print media, television and radio broadcasting spectrum.

The South African finalists include five producers working with M-Net’s news and actuality show Carte Blanche; a television journalist with SABC3’s news and actuality show Special Assignment; a radio journalist on Talk Radio 702; and two print journalists, from Drum and the Sunday Independent.

The other finalists are from 12 countries across the African continent, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.

Founded in 1995 to recognise and encourage excellence in journalism on the continent, the 2007 competition received 1 670 entries from 40 countries, including French- and Portuguese-speaking entrants, a record in its 12 years of existence.

An independent judging panel, chaired by journalist and media consultant Joel Kibazo, will determine the winners in each category. Kibazo announced the finalists on Monday saying: “The CNN awards highlight the depth of talent we have on the African continent.
What lies at the heart of this competition is to nurture good journalism and have the African story told well.”

He added: “This year we were particularly pleased to receive even more entries from across the continent, a sign of how the competition has continued to grow.”

Others on the judging panel include Azubuike Ishiekwene, executive director of Punch Nigeria; Arlindo Lopes, secretary general of the Southern African Broadcasting Association; and Filipe Correia de Sá, a senior producer at the BBC World Service who was brought in to help judge the Portuguese-speaking category. 

The competition is open to professional journalists working across the continent for media organisations that principally target an African audience. The 2006 event was held in Maputo, Mozambique. This year, winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony in Cape Town on July 21.

Since the competition began, South Africans have collectively taken home more than 50 awards. Last year’s winners included seven local journalists, with South Africans being voted African Journalist of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2002.