Observer wins 5 journalism awards
ELEVEN Observer journalists Friday night received accolades for their work, with six being bestowed with some of the profession’s top honours at the annual National Journalism Awards banquet hosted by the Press Association of Jamaica.
Kimone Thompson, features editor — Sunday, and Janice Budd, Associate Editor — Sunday were awarded the Carl Wint prize for Human Interest Feature stories; Online News Editor Karyl Walker received the Hector Bernard/ Theodore Sealy Award for news; Sunday Observer reporter Donna Hussey-Whyte copped the President’s Award for investigative journalism; entertainment reporter Cecelia Campbell-Livingston got the prize for best entertainment reporter; and Jermaine Barnaby was awarded the Errol Harvey Trophy for Human Interest Photography.
The human interest feature stories award was for a series on mental health called ‘Matters of the Mind’, which explored issues affecting mentally ill persons and their loved ones, from the cost and effects of medication, the lack of facilities for some groups, the stigma and discrimination faced in the wider society to the psychological toll on caregivers. Walker’s winning piece was an exposé on the ill-treatment of Jamaican Shanique Myrie at the hands of Barbadian Customs and security officials, titled ‘Finger-raped in Barbados’.
The investigative journalism award to Hussey-Whyte was for an undercover series on the facilities and wait times in the island’s major public hospitals; Campbell-Livingston took the entertainment journalism prize for a piece about Eric ‘Monty’ Morris releasing his first album after 50 years in music; and Barnaby’s award was for a picture of passengers lifting a disabled woman onto a public passenger bus.
The first three prizes were tied, the first with CVM Television and the other two with The Gleaner.
Budd, meanwhile, was commended for her entry ‘Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier not ready’; sport editor Ian Burnett received “high commendations” for a series on football in high schools; and senior reporter Ingrid Brown was said to have presented a good body of work. Entries from photographers Bryan Cummings, Garfield Robinson and Marlon Reid were also singled out for special mention.
The night’s top prize, Journalist of the Year, was presented to TVJ reporter/ anchor Nadine McLeod, while the Young Journalist of the Year went to Abka Fitz-Henley of Nationwide Radio.
Prizes were awarded in 20 categories covering news, sports, business, entertainment, design, online, photography and cartoons.
Awards aside, the event featured presentations from practising journalists on the state of the media and served as the platform for the award of the PAJ/JPS scholarship to a student journalist.
The guest address was brought by Milton Coleman, veteran journalist and senior editor of the Washington Post. Coleman, who is also president of the Inter-Amercan Press Association (IAPA), spoke on matters of press freedom in democratic countries and called on those in the profession to stay true to its tenets of accuracy, fairness and objectivity in spite of mounting challenges presented by new technology, shrinking revenues and challenged credibility.
“The kind of journalism that is required to be done by a free press in democracies in order for truth and justice to continue in the 20th century and beyond, that’s our job. It’s important for us to understand that what we do is not just some kind of job where we get paid. It’s not just some kind of way to make yourself famous, but it’s truly a part of democracy,” he said.
Citing examples of countries where freedoms of the press and of self-expression were heavily curtailed and prosecuted by the State, Coleman said some 24 journalists have been killed in the western hemisphere this year alone, while many others were being driven into exile.
While those situations were extreme and unwelcome, the IAPA head said there’s no getting around adversarial relationships between governments and the press.
“That’s the way it should be. That’s the way it ought to be… there’s got to be adversarial relationships between us. We want to find out more, they want to tell us less,” he said.
Friday’s event, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, was the culmination of Journalism Week which began with a church service last Sunday.