The Nation journalists showed they are among the best by winning 21 laurels so far this year. This newspaper proved its leadership among its peers by winning the top prizes for media excellence. Deputy News Editor JOSEPH JIBUEZE reports.
It has been a year of laurels for The Nation and its journalists as they won 21 awards from 51 nominations at various award events organised to recognise media excellence.
The Nation was named the Newspaper of the Year at both the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) and at the 29th edition of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME).
It had 10 nominations and won in five categories at DAME, beating The Punch and Vanguard to clinch the top prize.
The Nation Editor, Adeniyi Adesina, was named DAME Editor of the Year.
At the NMMA where it had 38 nominations and won 14 honours, The Nation beat The Punch and The Guardian to clinch the Newspaper of the Year prize.
Adesina was a runner-up in the Editor of the Year category, which the organisers said he lost by a point or less.
This newspaper also shone at international awards. Our reporters won two laurels at the West Africa Media Excellence Awards (WAMECA).
The Nation had a good showing at the PwC Media Excellence Awards, where our journalists were runners-up in three categories.
The Nation reporter won the maiden edition of the 2020 Migration Reporter Competition.
How The Nation shone
Associate Editor Olatunji Ololade won the maiden edition of the 2020 Migration Reporter Competition.
An initiative of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN Migration, the grand finale and awards ceremony was held at the Bolton White Hotel conference hall in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on December 18.
It saw Ololade beating Jesusegun Alagbe and Olaleye Aluko, both of The Punch, to the grand prize of the Print Category.
Ololade won by his investigative series: 21st-century slaves, which mirrors the frightening plight of Nigeria’s underage girls and women sold into bonded slavery and sex servitude abroad.
For the story, Ololade scoured brothels and sex camps in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in an undercover investigation of the West African sex trafficking network.
The same story was a finalist for the 2020 Kurt Schork International Journalism Awards and nominated for the most remunerative journalism prize, the prestigious Fetisov Journalism Awards (FJA), in the Outstanding Investigative Reporting category.
Ololade’s recent win brings his tally of local and international awards to 30.
Deputy News Editor Joseph Jibueze was the first runner-up in the Tax and Fiscal Policy Reporting category of the PwC Media Excellence Awards.
Multi-award winner Collins Nweze was a finalist in the Capital Markets Reporting Category, while Kunle Akinrinade was nominated in the Business and Economy Reporting Category.
The organisers said: “The entries were reviewed by a panel of independent, respected and experienced judges.
“They were rated on the basis of quality of research and insight, balanced and unbiased analysis, creativity and originality of content, relevance to the Nigerian situation and, grammar and language skills.”
At DAME, which held on December 12, The Nation recorded 16 points made up of first place position in three categories, second place position in two categories and third place position in three categories.
Ololade continued his winning streak at DAME, winning the Child-Friendly Reporting category, with the entry: “Missing in Conflict” published on October 5, 2019.
Ololade also won the Lagos Reporting category, in which The Nation had two nominations.
His winning entry was entitled: “The Sinking Houses of Adeniji Adele.”
The Nation’s Taiwo Alimi was a nominee in the same category.
He was named the second runner-up with the entry: “We live in perpetual fear of land grabbers.”
The Nation won the Judiciary Reporting category, in which it had two nominations.
The first prize went to Gbenga Ogundare, who won with his entry: “The long, tortuous road to justice for rape victims”.
Jibueze, a five-time winner of the category, was the second runner-up, with his entry: “Are judges, lawyers undermining ACJA provisions?”
He had won the category back-to-back in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and again in 2018 and 2019.
Associate Editor Adekunle Yusuf was in the first runner-up in the Investigative Reporting category.
His entry was: “Horror of Nigeria’s dysfunctional emergence medical services.”
Yusuf was the grand prize winner at the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism in 2017.
The Nation was named first runner-up in the Best Designed Newspaper category, won by The Punch.
This newspaper was the second runner-up in the Editorial Writing category.
The organisers said: “In emerging as the Newspaper of the Year, The Nation recorded 16 points made up of first place position in three categories, second place position in two categories and three bronze or third place position in three categories.
“The gold medals are Child-friendly Reporting, Judiciary Reporting, and Lagos Reporting.
“The two silver medals are from Investigative Reporting and Newspaper Design, whilst the bronze comes from Editorial Writing, Judiciary and Lagos Reporting.
“With this outing, The Nation narrowly edged out The Punch by one point. It is the second time in six years that The Nation is winning this category.
“It also ends the five-year record of The Punch winning the Newspaper of the Year prize.
“Established July 31, 2006, The Nation has grown in stature and influence. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The Nation, the Newspaper of the Year.”
Ololade and Correspondent Innocent Duru were among five Nigerian journalists who shone at the WAMECA ceremony held on November 14 night.
Ololade was named the winner in the Environmental Reporting category.
Duru won Best Reporter in Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
No fewer than 740 entries received from 13 countries.
According to the organisers, the awards reward and inspire journalism excellence in West Africa and honour journalists who have produced compelling works with significant social impact.
The Nation confirmed its leading position by clinching 14 awards at the NMMA last Friday.
Beside the Newspaper of the Year, Duru and Nweze continued their streak at the prestigious award which had President Muhammadu Buhari as the Grand Patron, winning in four categories each.
Duru, who had eight nominations, won the Olu Aboderin Prize for Entertainment Reporter of the Year with the entry: “Poisoned chalice: shocking story of how Yahoo boys infiltrated music industry.”
His story, “Homecoming agony”, won the Olusegun Mimiko Prize for Foreign News Reporter of the Year.
Duru clinched the Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Reporter of the Year with the story: “Horrors of Asylum Seekers” and the Most Innovative Reporter of the Year with his entry: “Double jeopardy: sad tales of Nigerians who lost phones, bank savings to hackers.”
Nweze, a regular NMMA winner, clinched the Sonny Odogwu Prize for Business Reporter of the Year with his entry: “Hurdles before AMCON N5.4tr debt recovery bid (1) and (2).”
Chikodi Okereocha was a nominee in the category.
Nweze also won the Union Bank Prize for Banking and Finance Reporter of the Year, a category in which he had two nominations.
His winning entry was: “Banking with tears: our pains, by visually impaired customers.”
The Nation’s star Judiciary Correspondent Robert Egbe was the other nominee, with the story: “Banks: their customers and unending legal battles.”
Nweze also won the Access Bank Prize for Capital Market Reporter of the Year and UBA Prize for Money Market Reporter of the Year. He had two nominations each in both categories.
The winning entries were: “Taxing digital economy: noose tightens around tech giants” and “Dumping dirty banknotes, saving businesses”.
The gong for Ernest Sisei Ikoli Prize for Newspaper Reporter of the Year went to The Nation’s Oyesina Fadare, with the story: “Ponmo business sparks fear of epidemic in Lagos community.”
Duru was a nominee in the category.
Akinrinade won the Public Health Reporter of the Year, a category for which The Nation had three nominations.
The winning entry was: “The making of poisonous fufu (1) and (2).” The other nominees are Yusuf and Ololade.
Ibrahim Yusuf of The Nation won the Adamu Mu’azu Prize for Tourism Reporter of the Year, beating Ololade and Eniola Akinkuotu of The Punch.
He won the category with the story: “Lessons from Rwanda.”
The Nation’s Abiodun Williams was named the News Photographer of the Year, beating Salau Olalekan of Vanguard and Saheed Adedoyi of The Punch.
Our Foreign Affairs Editor Bola Olajuwon won the Nigerian Ports Authority Prize for Maritime Reporter of the Year, beating Salau Adebola of The Guardian, who had two nominations.
His story: “Concerns over rising crimes in gulf of Guinea” was found worthy of a win.
The Nation’s Simon Utebor won the MTN Prize for Telecommunications Reporter of the Year with a story he wrote last year while still an employee of The Punch.
Other The Nation staff members who got nominations are Damola Kola-Dare, Grace Obike, Justina Asishana, Dorcas Egede and Gbenga Ogundare.
Case for better funding
The Chairman, NMMA panel of assessors, Prof Ralph Akinfeleye, said urged media owners and managers to better fund investigations.
According to him, the entries for investigative reporting lacked depth and were fewer than last year’s.
“Some of the write-ups are left-footed, both structurally and conceptually.
“Media owners should invest and provide adequate funding for investigative reporting because it is time-consuming and of a high-risk venture,” he said.
There were no winners in seven categories because the entrants did not meet the 70 per cent cut-off point.
They are the Coca-Cola Prize for Brand Marketing Reporter of the Year; Chevron Nigeria Prize for Oil and Gas Reporter of the Year; Aviation Reporter of the Year; First Bank Prize for Business Publication of the Year; George-Bako Prize for Radio Reporter of the Year; TV Production of the Year and TV Drama of the Year.
The eminent professor of Mass Communication said many of the entries for Female Reporter of the Year lacked focus.
Prof Akinfeleye said: “Some were not even tangential to the subject matter. Our appeal to the female reporter is to wake up from their slumber,” he said.
He noted that entries for Columnist of the Year, for which no winner was declared, saying they were “highly commendable”, “relevant”, “informative as well as educative”.
“Topical and contemporary issues were treated with robust local examples,” he said.
Prof Akinfeleye said despite the pandemic and the short notice in the call for entries, the media responded positively.