JAMAICA Observer's Sunday reporter Romardo Lyons and sports reporter Sherdon Cowan were on Saturday night named Young Journalist of the Year and Sports Journalist of the Year (print), respectively, at the 2022 Press Association of Jamaica National Journalism Awards at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew
This is the second time in a row that Observer journalists are copping both awards.
In 2021 Lyons won Young Journalist of the Year and Sports Journalist of the Year. For 2022 he retained the Young Journalsit of the Year title while Cowan, a consistent winner in the Sports Journalist of the Year category, regained the title.
Lyons, 25, was nominated in 10 categories but emerged winner in the prestige award given to, as the name suggests, young journalists who have been working in the media for no more than three years
Lyons' winning entries were Painful Hope: Mom continues to dream that slain daughter will return; Pain at Cornwall Regional: Patients complain bitterly about western hospitals conditions; and Accused rapist's family in fear: Threats levelled at Davian Bryan's people; community folk distance themselves.
During a post-awards show interview Lyons said it was an overwhelming experience.
"To have actually been nominated with co-workers Brittny Hutchinson and Rochelle Clayton, whom I have developed good friendships with, was a great feeling. I think we knew it was coming to the O-Team — it was just a matter of which one of us," he said, laughing.
"This back-to-back win is great because as a youth who grew up in Tivoli Gardens, this is the kind of positive highlight I always want for my community; it doesn't matter if I'm not there anymore. I did a lot of features last year with youngsters from the community who have achieved great things and I'm glad that this story, though focusing on me, can add to that."
With regards to his entries, Lyons said: "I am proud of the stories I submitted. I travelled to Portland to speak with Davian Bryan's family. I had been in contact with them for weeks and they were hesitant, understandably so. Eventually, they agreed to speak to me. For Pain at Cornwall Regional I pretended to be a patient under a tent at the hospital to get a feel of what the patients truly endure while renovations are underway. That's one of my favourite stories to date — the on the ground experience and not knowing what you're walking into is an aspect of journalism I love. And, for Painful Hope, a mother relived the worse day of her life. She shared in detail how she learned her daughter was killed, and detailed her struggles to come to grips with reality four years later."
He added: "Last year I was super nervous and this year was no different. That's just me; I will never get over the nerves thing."
Meanwhile, Cowan, who submitted a two-part feature on bobsleigher Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, conquering the ice and life's challenges, and diver Yona Knight-Wisdom, the epitome of hard work paying off; and a story on young karting sensation Alex Powell delivering on a promise to his father with a historic win in the European Championships, said he was just humbled and grateful to God for His wisdom, knowledge and understanding that continues to guide his path.
He added: "This is my fifth PAJ Award, fourth in the sports category, and of course I have to dedicate this one to my colleagues on the sports desk and the wider editorial department at the Jamaica Observer. In 2020, when I last won, it is just a matter of hard work paying off. The awards merely serve as added motivation to continue pushing because the true beauty about what we do as journalists is the way we impact the lives of those we feature and also our readers. So while I relish this win, the focus is already on finding the next big story."
1. Journalist of the Year (Sponsor – Sagicor)
Winner: Giovanni Dennis, Television Jamaica
2. Young Journalist of the Year (Sponsor – Jamaica Broilers)
Winner: Romardo Lyons, Jamaica Observer
3. President's Award for Investigative Journalism (Sponsor – Jamaica Broilers)
Winner: Giovanni Dennis, Ivan Shaw, Uton West – Television Jamaica
4. Hector Bernard/Theodore Sealy Award for News Journalism (Sponsor – JPS)
Winner, Print Media: Janet Silvera, The Gleaner
Winner, Electronic Media: Giovanni Dennis, Television Jamaica
5. Carl Wint Award for Best Feature (Sponsor – VMBS)
Winner, Print Media: Kimone Francis, The Gleaner
Winner, Electronic Media: Leevan Rainford, Street Driven.Tv
6. Best Television Feature/Documentary (Sponsor – Supreme Ventures Limited)
Winner: Donald Oliver, SportsMax
7. Best Radio Feature/Documentary (Sponsor – Caribbean Cement Limited)
Winner: Ricardo Brooks, Nationwide News Network
8. Aston Rhoden Award for News Photography (Sponsor – Red Stripe)
Winner: Rudolph Brown, The Gleaner
9. Junior Dowie Award for Sports Photography (Sponsor – Jamaica National)
Winner: Gladstone Taylor, The Gleaner
10. Errol Harvey Award for Human Interest Photography (Sponsor –NCB)
Winner: Ashley Anguin, The Gleaner
11. Digicel Award for Technology (Sponsor - Digicel)
Winners: Kelesha Williams, Uton West and Milton Reid – Television Jamaica
12. Excellence in Reporting on the Environment (Sponsor – NHT)
Winner: Giovanni Dennis, Ivan Shaw and Uton West – Television Jamaica
13. Excellence in Reporting on Health & Wellness (Sponsor – Sagicor Life)
Winner: Nationwide News Network
14. UNICEF Media Award for Excellence in Reporting on Children's Rights (sponsor - UNICEF)
Winner: Myesha Broadie, IRIE FM
15. Ken Dawson Award for Videography (sponsor - Supreme Ventures)
Winner: Leevan Rainford, Street Driven.Tv
16. Excellence in Reporting on Agriculture (Sponsor – Jamaica Broilers)
Winner: Vashan Brown, Glenford Campbell and Jelani Campbell – Television Jamaica
17. Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Journalism (Sponsor – J Wray and Nephew Ltd.)
Winner, Print Media: Sherdon Cowan, Jamaica Observer
Winner, Electronic Media: Jerome Foster, Television Jamaica
18. Morris Cargill Award for Opinion Journalism (Sponsor - NCB)
Winner: Ricardo Brooks, Nationwide News Network
19. Best Breaking News Coverage (Sponsor - Flow)
Winner: Janet Silvera, The Gleaner
20. Carlton Alexander Award for Business and Finance Journalism (Sponsor - GraceKennedy Limited)
Winner - Kimone Francis, The Gleaner
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