Kenyans conquer the continent at CNN journalism awards


 Kenyan journalists, including two who were trained by Internews, walked away with many of the awards at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2011 Awards.

The 2011 CNN African Journalist of the Year is Kenyan journalist Fatuma Noor, who writes for The Star.

Her investigative series on Al Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia, impressed the judges of the prestigious all Africa awards, now in its sixteenth year. Noor’s series won in the Print General News category, and made her the overall winner.

Three other Kenyan entrants won in their categories:

  • Kamau Mutunga of the Daily Nation won the Sport Award
  • Internews trainee, Citizen TV’s Sylvia Chebet and colleague Kimani Githae walked away with the Economics & Business Award for a captivating story showing what an “uphill task” it is to make a cell phone call in the county of Marsabit, in rural Kenya. (Watch the video)  
  • Beryl Ooro of K24, another Internews trainee, won the HIV/AIDS Reporting award for her story about elderly people who are HIV-positive.

This makes Kenya the country with the most winning entries. Their stories were chosen from among 1407 submissions from 42 nations across the African continent.

When she was a 24-year old TV journalist, Sylvia Chebet so impressed her editor that a new program, called Heartbeat, was created on prime time TV in Kenya to air her constant stream of stories on vital health issues.  Chebet, a senior reporter for Kenya’s Citizen TV, participated in the first group of TV trainees at Internews’ Local Voices program in Kenya, learning how to report on HIV/AIDS and other health issues accurately and effectively. In this recent video, she talks about her reporting on humanitarian and women’s issues.

Beryl Ooro won for her story about 89-year-old Silvanus Olunga from Butula, who is HIV positive. The judges praised Ooro for looking at an issue that has always been there, but has been completely overlooked by the media: older and even elderly people, who are HIV positive.

“This is journalism at its best, which goes beyond the ordinary,” said the judges’ citation. When Beryl walked to the stage at the event in Johannesburg, she charmed the audience by being speechless … at first! She made a quick recovery then spoke about what the award means to her.

“I am now even more motivated to push for excellence in journalism,”says Beryl. She would like to use the opportunity to expand the HIV slot – “Hope Beyond” – on K24 and to talk to colleagues about introducing more online tools for the channel.

M-Net on DStv will broadcast the award ceremony program highlights in July.

  • Broadcasters in 45 countries on the African continent will be transmitting the Highlights Program during July.
  • Internationally, the Highlights Program will be shown on OBE TV in the UK, The Africa Channel in the United States/UK and on RTP Africa.
  • CNN International’s longest-running feature program, “Inside Africa” will include a report on the awards on Saturday, 2 July at 1730 BST.

Internews’ work in Kenya is supported by the US Agency for International Development.



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