Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Award night: Telkom ICT Journalist of the Year 2006

Today I’ll digress from my usual parenting/creative writing fare, and once again chat about the Telkom ICT Journalist of the Year 2006 awards, which take place this evening at the Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

Firstly, another nominee for the award (citizen journalism category) found me through this blog and emailed me to say hi. The realization that people actually read this blog and sometimes take the time to email me always surprises me.

Anyway, we agreed to meet at the awards function. Which reminds me – I need to send her a quick email so we make firm arrangement. I dislike having to look for someone I don’t even know.

A couple of friends also emailed me to wish me luck. (Yes, I blabbed to everyone who’d listen that I’ve been nominated). They promise to collectively send good vibes my way at the same time, but I’m not sure if the vibes will mean anything. The judging process is completed, and what will be is fated to be.

What other journalists say

There’s been a lot of discussion among ICT journalists I know about the awards. Part of the discussion is sharing and bragging about being nominated, but we are quick to reassure each other that we are not in direct competition (which is a lie).

Nonetheless, I’ve found myself traveling that slippery slope too. “I’ve been nominated for online category,” I say to a financial journalist who writes for a print financial daily. And we don’t want to be overall winners?

One or two journalists tell me they entered the competition for the prize money, as if they wouldn’t have entered had the award not been so fat.

I smile and nod – we journalists work hard to be seen as cynical and not easy to impress. But I suspect we all need/want the validation that comes from having our work being publicly honoured.

There was one journalist who was honest enough to say the prize money would be nice, but she just wants to win the award so her husband can acknowledge she’s a good journalist. I hope she wins something, because it seemed so important to her. (….and she’s not competing in my category. He!)

Then there are journalists who say they didn’t enter because they are unlikely to win. One of the popular reasons is that previous winners have not necessarily been from traditional ICT media.

Then there’s the “I wrote a very negative story about Telkom so they are unlikely to reward me for trashing them” angle. I won’t touch that one with a barge pole.

Judging criteria

Journalists’ reasons and excuses for (not) entering notwithstanding, the organisers say the award aims to develop and nurture transparency and to encourage a greater public interest in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Judging criteria includes journalistic excellence, clarity and balance/fairness.

“The competition has over the years become a platform for ICT reporters to showcase their impeccable journalistic contributions to the industry,” a statement on their web site says.

So yes, one year and more than 600 articles later, I want readers and the ICT sector to see me as an excellent, fair journalist with a strong understanding of the issues affecting them. Wouldn’t you want your work to be recognized too?

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