Oct 26, 2015 News
It was a big night for local media practitioners when United Nations Guyana held its first ever media awards in recognition of the media’s role in keeping developmental issues on the agenda.
The event, which was held on Saturday evening at the Georgetown Club, coincided with the UN’s 70th anniversary.
About a dozen local media workers received awards for their stellar coverage of the developmental work of UN agencies, funds, and programmes in Guyana. Prizes were up for grabs on 11 social issues: HIV and AIDS; human rights; food and nutrition security; involvement of youth and women in agriculture; health; child protection; youth and adolescent development and participation; sexual and reproductive health; adolescents and youths; the environment; and poverty and governance.
Additionally, the competition was open to all sections of the media – print, radio, television and even online.
The print media copped the majority of the prizes on Saturday. Amongst the winners was Kaieteur News reporter Desilon Daniels for the print media poverty and governance category; Stabroek News reporters, Gaulbert Sutherland (print – human rights), Roger Wong (print media – food and nutrition security), Sharda Bacchus (print media – child protection), and Thandeka Percival (online media – food and nutrition security). Guyana Chronicle reporter, Tajeram Mohabir, also copped two prizes (print media – health and involvement of youth and women in agriculture).
There were also honourable mention awardees: Kaieteur News reporters Desilon Daniels and Sharmain Granger copped mentions in the print media section for the sexual and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS categories respectively, while former KN reporter Nicholas Peters, received a mention in the youth and adolescent development and participation category. Other honourable mentions included Tamara Rodney of Demerara Waves, Ravin Singh of the Guyana Chronicle and Zoisa Fraser of Stabroek News.
Sutherland was also awarded the top prize for the most submissions of a consistently high nature while Stabroek News copped the award for the media house with the most entries.
During her remarks, Chief Judge, Paloma Mohamed, explained that the awards were based on the premise that the promotion of the development works of UN through the media is necessary in raising the public profile of the organisation.
“The success of such an awards programme is best exemplified by the quality and frequency of coverage of developmental information in the media. As primary functionaries of information dissemination, all media workers and journalists have a huge responsibility to analyse situations and to keep developmental concerns on the national agenda.”
In explaining the criteria for the awards, she said that overall areas were common to all of the different sections. These areas were factuality, balance and accuracy, analysis, overall impact and style. The judges also used a grading scale to determine the level of prizes awarded. Entries falling under the 50 points were deemed below average; those from 51 to 60 points were deemed fair, while those from 61 to 70 were considered above average. Entries ranging from 71 to 80 points were considered very good while entries above 80 points were deemed excellent. The judges decided that only entries of the highest quality would be awarded the full prize.
“The rationale for this was that any entry scoring an average of 71 and above – very good to excellent – would be deserving of the full prize,” she said. She said any score below 71 points but above 50 points could be considered honourable mentions.
Judging occurred from October 11 to October 15 and involved four judges. Besides Mohamed, the judges were veteran journalist and Demerara Waves founder, Denis Chabrol; Deputy Programme Director of Communications at CARICOM, Volderine Hackett; and University of Guyana Communications Studies lecturer, Terrence Esseboom.
In total, there were 45 entries: 22 of these were from the print media, 12 from radio, three from television, and eight from online. Unfortunately, she said, the radio and television entries were not included in the competition since these entries did not meet even the relaxed criteria.
“Stories submitted were generally poignant and strong,” Mohamed said, before continuing, “In the words of judge Volderine Hackett, they called attention to some social ills in far-flung places such as in ‘Welcome to Angoy’s Avenue’ or to pressing problems such as teenage pregnancy or the slow development of Lethem or the extent of palm mite problems in Guyana.” She said many of the stories were scored within three points of each other.
However, she indicated some problems with submissions, including the use of file photos, lack of hyperlinks in online articles, and photos taken from the internet without adequate citing. There were also problems with confusing and weak story leads.
“This would be very confusing for readers. Reporters must have had a very clear idea about what the news story is about and they must focus on that issue before they published,” she said. She said too that “Editors must rule” since the news entity had a responsibility to set developmental agendas and be gatekeepers. She stressed that errors noted could have been avoided if editors had provided more guidance.
The awards were preceded by both a sensitisation workshop for journalists and a brunch for editors and owners. These activities had been aimed to create a bridge between the makers and shapers of news.
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