Nation Publications Limited (NPL) on Saturday night retained the Best Print Media House of the Year Award for the third year running with its journalists dominating individual awards.
It was all smiles for the brains behind The Nation, Weekend Nation, Nation on Sunday, Nation Online and Fuko at this year’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi World Press Freedom Day gala awards at the Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu as journalists took turn to receive the awards.
Individual category winners from NPL included Lilongwe bureau chief Samuel Chunga (Overall Winner, Environmental Sustainability and Water and Sanitation—Print), Mzuzu bureau supervisor James Chavula (Hunger and Poverty Award and Tourism Journalist of the Year—Print), sub-editor Kondwani Kamiyala (Education Journalist of the Year, Human Rights Journalist of the Year and Universal Primary Education Award), senior news analyst Peter Kanjere (Sports Journalist of the Year), news analyst Rebecca Chimjeka (Investigative Journalist of the Year—Print and Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment), reporters Lucky Mkandawire (Photojournalist of the Year and The Hennox Mazengera Financial Journalist of the Year—Print ), Bobby Kabango (Chichewa Journalist of the Year) and Watipaso Mzungu (Maternal Newborn Health Journalist of the Year—Print and HIV and Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis) as well as former managing editor the late Edward Chitsulo.
To win the Print Media House of the Year Award, the judges recognised NPL for the various roles it plays in society, including corporate social responsibility (CSR). Besides being a voice of the voiceless, NPL has been reaching out to the needy through its CSR projects such as the annual Mother’s Day Fun Run that mobilises resources for safe motherhood in public hospitals and projects in schools.
Chitsulo, who died in March this year, was honoured post-humously with the Lifetime Achiever Award. To honour Chitsulo, almost everyone in the hall stood up to witness the presentation of the award.
Speaking on behalf of NPL, Chavula saluted the late Chitsulo for winning the award.
However, he said he wished Chitsulo had received the recognition while he was still alive, eulogising the fallen editor as an outstanding man and mentor who contributed a lot to the development of the country through journalism.
Times Group journalists won two awards in the print category where editor Gracian Tukula emerged columnist of the year. Other Times Group journalists, notably Agness Mizere (blogger of the year) and Brian Banda (best talk show host) also won awards.
In the electronic media category, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) retained the Electronic Media House of the Year Awards and other individual awards. However, there were new faces from other radios in the electronic media awards which previously were dominated by ZBS journalists.
In his remarks, Misa Malawi chairperson Thom Khanje said by dragging its feet on the Access to Information (ATI) Bill, government is raising suspicions of a hidden agenda. But he said the media will fight to see the bill tabled and passed in Parliament.
Khanje said Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa appears passionate about having the bill tabled, but claimed some officials are behind the sabotage.
He also urged the need for government to open up taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and ensure its independence. He said in a multiparty democracy, the station cannot continue to be monopolised by governing parties.
On his part, Nankhumwa said his ministry is also championing review of Communications Act to enable MBC to attain the status of a true public broadcaster and open to all Malawians.
Said Nankhumwa: “I am pleased to inform you that processes for finalising the Access to Information Bill are being expedited to ensure that, all things being equal, the proposed piece of legislation is made available for the consideration of the National Assembly during the coming budget meeting of Parliament.”
World Press Freedom Day falls on May 3 and was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) conference in 1991.