This year’s Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards drew over 1 000 entries from all over the country. The KwaZulu-Natal regional awards took place on 17 October and journalists were recognised in 12 categories.
The theme for the awards this year is ‘Your Word’, and promotes the integrity of journalism across all media.
“We are delighted to announce the regional winners in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2017 Awards, which honour journalists from around the country by recognising their best work from the past year. We look forward to welcoming them at the national finals,” said Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group. “I would also like to pay tribute to the judges, who year after year provide their expertise and knowledge in the adjudication of these prestigious awards, thereby ensuring the integrity of the process. Thanks go to Ryland Fisher, Mary Papayya, Arthur Goldstuck, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Megan Rusi, Mathatha Tshedu, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa.”
The judges faced a tough job processing entries that were of a very high standard. This year KwaZulu-Natal journalists submitted 101 entries in total.
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The entries across the 12 categories were excellent this year. Our criteria for judging is to look for entries that could possibly make the cut for the national finals, and the overall prize of R100 000 for the journalist of the year award. KwaZulu-Natal journalists can be proud of the work they have done and we look forward to even more entries from this region next year.”
There were 12 categories:
- Young Journalist
- Print Feature
- Print News
- Radio Feature
- Radio News
- Television Feature;
- and Television News.
Regional winners for the KwaZulu-Natal Region were announced today at a function at the Protea Hotel Umhlanga Ridge in Durban. Winners in the Regional categories each took home R5 000, with the exception of the Young Journalist of the Year regional finalist, who received a certificate. All the regional winners go through to the national awards in Johannesburg on 16 November 2017.
The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards in the KwaZulu-Natal region are:
2017 Radio News
The best radio news reporting demands the ability to identify a good story and then also to find and expose the story behind the story. These critically important skills were clearly displayed by the collection of work entered by the regional winner and including stories on albinism, muti killings, and the rape of a 10-year-old child. The winner is: Vusi Khumalo of SABC News.
2017 Radio Feature
An integral part of a good Radio Feature is innovative use of different sound elements. The regional winner used sound creatively, making the listener take note of – and become involved in – the stories. For his collection of entries, including the Jozini pupils who have to cross a crocodile-infested river every day, and the plight of a baby left disabled after being hospitalised, the award goes to: Vusi Khumalo of SABC Radio.
Two Sport features in this region stood out so strongly for the judges that they declared them joint winners. One entry was solid investigative work and tenacious journalism, ultimately unearthing allegations of bribery in KwaZulu-Natal cricket. The other entry was an inspirational story of a stubborn young women who overcame massive physical challenges to achieve her swimming dreams. The joint regional winners are: Myron Naicker and Terence Stone of eNCA for the TV report “KZN cricket scandal”; AND Quintin van Jaarsveld of eHowzit for the online report, “Swimming upstream”.
Excellent in-depth reporting is the hallmark of the specialist CSI/Sustainability category. This year’s regional winner capitalised on information supplied by a well-developed network of sources to tear holes in what we thought we knew, making corporates rethink their greening strategies and consumers question their lifestyles. For a strongly researched but succinctly and energetically narrated investigation into the unsuspected reality that almost every single one of our plastic shopping bags cannot currently be recycled, the winner is: Wendy Knowler of Tiso Blackstar for ‘Bags of lies’.
2017 Print News
Corruption continues to bedevil South African society, even affecting access to university education with attempts made to bypass the UKZN quota system used to apportion admission between Africans, “coloureds”, whites, “Indians” and others. For a print news story that revealed how Indian students who could not crack the academic threshold found that a R500 000 bribe could smuggle them in as “coloureds” and that led to the arrest of alleged masterminds, the winner is: Nabeelah Shaikh of the Sunday Tribune for ‘For sale: A place at medical school’.
2017 Print Feature
Sometimes an abnormality persists for so long that we all seem to forget the pressing need to normalise. Since 1994, segregation and apartheid should have had no place in our country but single-sex workers’ hostels are one relic that persist. Those where men were herded together for months without their spouses often became powder kegs of unrest, masking the fact that there were women’s hostels too – and still are. About 4,000 women and children are crammed into Durban’s Thokoza hostel. The space was built for fewer than half that number and no man is ever allowed inside. The print feature winners, who forcibly reminded us of the hell hole that is Thokoza, are: Tania Broughton and Thuli Dlamini of The Times for ‘Inside apartheid’s hostel’.
The most powerful online stories tend to become more than a digital artefact, also having an impact in the real world. The winning online story combined strong human interest and political scandal. The winner for breaking, tenaciously pursuing, and leading the media follow up of this story is: Giordano Stolley of African News Agency for ‘KZN cancer treatment meltdown brings woman to brink of death’.
An in-depth investigation in the Financial and Economic field can take many guises and this category rewards excellent in-depth reporting across any medium. The winner depicted and analysed popular outrage, corporate cost-saving and environmental laissez faire in a well-balanced TV feature that investigated the wheeling and dealing around the Enviroserv landfill controversy. The winner is: Julie Laurenz of Nguni TV for SABC2’s 50/50 for “Kicking up a stink”.
It is not often that a single image illuminates the essence of an individual, but the patience and passion of this photographic journalist paid off. The resulting image captured the attention of the country with a portrait of notorious criminal Ananis Mathe, a convicted serial rapist and armed robber and serial prison escaper, in C Max Prison but still evoking the horrors that his many victims must have faced. The winner is: Thuli Dlamini of The Times for “The evil eye.”
2017 Television News
Sadly, the fact that too many learners still have to get up early and walk hours to school is not new in our country. But that does not mean that we should give up telling the story of the plight of these learners. For fresh and effective highlighting of this issue, the winner is: Buhle Khumalo of SABC Television News for ‘River’.
2017 Television Feature
An excellent television feature might need to be nurtured for weeks or even months – or a resourceful journalist could find and work sources in a few hours to plug a gap and ensure that a hungry news editor is not disappointed. For uncovering an insurance scam where policies were taken out on victims before killing them, the winners are: Dasen Thathiah and Nkanyiso Mdlalose of eNCA for the series, ‘Greytown Scam’.
Young Journalist Award
The winner in the region receives a certificate and goes through to the national round to compete for the overall prize. The overall award provides an opportunity to fast-track a young journalist’s professional and personal development through an all-expenses paid overseas trip that includes a visit to the renowned Thomson Foundation, as well as the opportunity to work in a newsroom. To enter this category a journalist should have worked in the media for up to, but not more than, three years, and be able to demonstrate their potential through their entries. The KwaZulu-Natal winner is Sbongakonke Mbatha from SABC News.