On a night meant to reward media excellence, TELL again proved its worth. Anthony Akaeze, the magazine’s former senior associate editor, stood out for his reporting as he was one of seven African journalists honoured at the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards, WAMECA, in Accra, Ghana on Saturday, October 13. The event, organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa, held at the Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel in Accra, Ghana and attracted dignitaries from both the media, government and private sector. Akaeze won the infrastructure category with his story titled ‘Investigation: Darkness in Lagos despite N4bn ‘Light Up Lagos project.’ Investigation for the story was done with the support of the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Another of Akaeze’s story titled “Otodo Gbame: How Lagos Govt Killed a Community and its Dreams,” funded by ICIR, was also nominated for the human rights reporting category which was won by Nabaloum Abdel Aziz of Burkina Faso. Like Akaeze, Richard Kwadwo Nyarko, of Ghana who also won the Telecoms and ICT Reporting, was also shortlisted for two awards.
Other winners on the night which had Mohamed Ibn Chambers as guest of honour were Adam Alqali, Nigeria – SDG Reporting, Seth Kwame Boateng, Ghana – Health Reporting, Victor Ekwealor, Nigeria – Business Reporting and Manasseh Azuri Awuni, Ghana – Anti-Corruption Reporting. Awuni also emerged the best West African journalist of the year. Apart from the winners, other shortlisted journalists include Kemi Busari of Nigeria, Anthony Acarus Stephens of Liberia, Justice Baidoo, Ghana, Sawadogo Afsetou, Burkina Faso, Oladeinde Olawoyin, Nigeria, Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman, Ghana, Odimegwu Onwumere, Nigeria, Daryl Kwawu, Ghana, Mame Diomma Drame, Senegal, Kingbewe Yao Harve, Benin Republic and Bayo Olupohunda, Nigeria.
The 18 finalists were chosen from over 600 applications from both anglophone and francophone West Africa. Judges for the contest were Samba Dialimpa Badji, Elizabeth Ohene and Lanre Idowu.
All winners received a cash prize of $500, certificate and plaque and were promised training opportunities by the organisers to further enhance their skills. Awuni was the biggest beneficiary as he won additional $2000 for emerging overall best. Other finalists also received certificates of merit.
The awards night, marked with music from the Wulomie Band, was preceded by a conference where journalists and media experts deliberated on the state of the media in Africa and how to improve it in the face of dwindling circulation figures and poor revenues for media companies which has negatively impacted the industry. Part of the suggestions that emerged from the sessions is for media owners to rethink their strategies and adopt new business models as what worked in the past may not be suitable for today’s technology-driven world.