Mia Malan of the Mail & Guardian was awarded the Journalist of the Year award. Malan says the essence of a good story is about your story-telling ability. “You can research a story as much as you want, conduct as many interviews as you can for it, but if you cannot take those facts and bring them together into a compelling narrative with a climax and a middle and an end, then it will not work - no matter how compelling the subject."
This, she says, is where passion comes in. “You can learn interview skills, writing techniques, but to bring it together you have to have passion for your subject and for what you do.”
She expressed her thanks to the Mail &Guardian as well. “I am very grateful to work at a newspaper where I have the space to tell a good story. This made it so much easier to write an award winning story.”
The newspaper industry must be proud of its achievements, especially given the growing constraints on the media. This was the feedback given at the Awards on the entries by Paula Fray, Convener Judge for the Sikuvile Journalism Awards for the past four years. Fray was also awarded the Fellow Award of the PDMSA on the night for her many years of service to the industry. She told the Award attendees that they should be proud of the ethical journalism the country is witnessing. “There is an excitement in the industry; it is not all doom and gloom. Given the quality of the entries I have seen this year, I am confident that the industry will continue to be innovative to meet its challenges.”
The result of increasing difficult circumstances was a thinness of what was entered in some categories she says. “However despite this, we found stories that are told with innovation and enterprise journalism that is excellent and of great quality.”
It is gratifying to see the growth in the number of journalists and the number of entries increasing. “The growth of the entries in the multi-platform category was accompanied by an increase in the quality of these entries”. Another highlight for her was the strength of the regional media.
The process of judging was a difficult one, she emphasises. “You would think that it would be easier over the years but it is not. The decision to focus on the basics of journalism might seem self-evident but it is important to recognise what we are seeing in the Awards is the telling of stories by journalists under tremendous difficulties.”
This year no award was given in the category Editor of the Year, which was introduced three years ago. Previous winners include Nick Dawes, Ferial Haffajee and Makhudu Sefara. This year, while overall the Awards produced a diverse range of winners, it was felt that no publication stood out among them and, as a result, a decision was made not to award the Editor of the Year.
Young Journalist of the Year went to Jay Caboz of Forbes Life Africa Magazine.
For more information, visit the PDMSA website.