By Juldeh Njie
Members of the GPU journalism award committee of the 2018 have observed the need to improve the profession, saying the award is meant to set standards in the media fraternity.
The award, according to the committee members, is meant to motivate journalists in the country to strive for excellence in their work, and as a result empower to inform the public.
The award also aims to recognize and honor outstanding journalists and people who have positively influenced the media industry in The Gambia.
The Chairman of the award committee, Musa Sise, said: “Every year the union puts a notice to see hardworking men and women in the media fraternity that need to be recognized and honored.”
Sise revealed that the number of categories has been increased, Best Community Radio Programme Award category joining the fray.
“We think it is important for community radio programmes because some of their work might be as limited as their listeners and they might be doing great things,” Sise said.
He said the judges will consider the content of their programmes, the impact, how effective and vital they are to the societies they operate in.
“If the panel of judges knows that your submission is below standards, it will be dropped even if you are the only one in that category,” he warned.
He added that only three nominations will be announced for each category with the finals to be announced later this month ahead of the ceremony on 4 May where the winners will be awarded.
He added that Gambia will only progress with a vibrant press that knows its responsibility and differentiates facts from fiction.
Coordinator of the award committee, Hadija Jawara, said journalists cannot just write to win awards and it will be based on professionalism and excellence.
“We have realized that some journalists just write when the award is approaching and that’s not fair; that’s why the calendar year is introduced. Only articles that are written from January to December 2017 will be accepted,” she said.
She said the dress cord for this year’s award is going to be very formal. She implored on journalists to dress as formally as possible.
Zainab Faal, member of the organising committee encouraged female journalists to go for hard stories and not to allow men to overshadow them.
Faal urged young journalists to be creative and take up columns and human interest stories to improve and set standards to be recognised.
These remarks were made recently at the GPU press conference held at the Gambia Press Union secretariat in Fajara.
Business Reporting Award: Entries should cover reporting in any aspect of the economy or business venture.
Sports Reporting Award: Entries should relate to reporting on sports – coverage of sporting events; business behind sport and features on personalities.
Environment Reporting Award: Entries should relate to environmental issues: protection of the environment; conservation; climate change and innovative ways to combat environmental damage.
Features Reporting Award: This award recognizes excellence in long-form, in-depth reporting on any political, economic, social or cultural issue.
Health & Medical Reporting Award: Entries should include coverage of prevention, protection and treatment of diseases and conditions; cost and development of healthcare; and the impact of health issues on communities.
Women’s Reporting Award: Entries should relate to reporting on any aspect of women’s issues in the Gambia.
Children’s Reporting Award: Entries should relate to reporting on any aspect of issues involving children in The Gambia.
Travel, Tourism and Culture Reporting Award: Entries should relate to reporting on any aspect of travel and tourism, including how it affects the economy and socio-cultural settings.
Agriculture Reporting Award: Entries should cover any coverage of agriculture– farming, aquaculture etc.
Political Reporting Award: Entries should cover reporting on domestic politics, including coverage of political events and personalities.
Human Rights Reporting Award: Entries for this category should cover reporting on human rights.
Court Reporting Award: Entries for this category should cover reports from the local courts.
Best Community Radio Programme Award: Entries for this category should cover programmes broadcast from the community radios. Five different editions of the programme should be submitted.
In 2016, the Gambia Press Union launched annual journalism awards. Part of World Press Freedom Day commemoration, the journalism awards is meant to motivate journalists in The Gambia to strive for excellence in their work. This will in turn empower the public as they will be provided with quality journalism that enables them to make well thought out choices.