Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Patricia Sia Ngevao, a promising journalist of Awoko Newspaper, emerged victorious in the prestigious National Inclusive Anti-Conflict Journalism Awards held by the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) Sierra Leone and the Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) with support from the European Union.
The inaugural award ceremony took place at 50-50 Hall at Tower Hills, Freetown, Sierra Leone where two other winners Cecilia Alice Sesay from Sierra Leone Broadcasting Television and Mohamed Sahr from A-Z Newspaper secured the second and third positions, respectively.
All winners were honoured with cash prizes and exquisite trophies plus cash prizes presented to first, second, and third place recipients in cheques to the tune of €500, €300, and €200, respectively.
In addition to the top three awardees, six other journalists were recognized with certificates of merit for their remarkable participation in the awards as part of the EMMAP project.
Entries for the award were accepted from September 16 to October 7, with media works (such as published stories or broadcast clips) from July 1 to August 31 of the same year being eligible for submission says Patricia Sankoh, the project officer at MRCG who emphasized that the primary aim of the award was to raise awareness about the intricate links between conflict, migration, climate change, and minority exclusion.
“This initiative was an integral part of the ‘Engaging Media and Minorities to Act for Peacebuilding (EMMAP)’ project, which received funding from the European Union, Sankoh said expressing her hope that the awards would inspire journalists to continue producing outstanding reports that bring benefits to minority groups and communities not only in Sierra Leone, but also in other parts of Africa, including Ghana and Senegal where the project is also been implemented.
The award received entries for a limited period, and a total of 25 journalists from different media organizations in Sierra Leone submitted their works. A group of media experts carefully assessed and shortlisted the top performers. The judging criteria for the awards encompassed the originality of the stories, investigative work, impact on minority communities, authentic portrayals of diverse voices, and the dedication of the reporters.
During the awards ceremony, Eastina Taylor, the National President of Women in the Media Sierra Leone and one of the judges, highlighted the significance of these criteria. She explained that they were crucial in recognizing and promoting responsible journalism that sheds light on crucial issues, promotes peace, and fosters inclusivity in Sierra Leone and the wider West African region.
Furthermore, Lawyer Francis Sowa, the National Coordinator of MRCG, emphasized the importance of promoting conflict-sensitive reporting and advocating for the rights of minority groups in journalism.
His sentiments were echoed by Victor Massaquoi (PhD), the Chairperson of the MRCG Advisory Board and the Independent Media Commission of Sierra Leone, as well as Alhaji Manika Kamara, the National Secretary General of SLAJ who both expressed their admiration for MRCG, MRGI, and their partners for recognizing and celebrating the dedicated efforts of Sierra Leone’s journalists.
After receiving the award, Patricia Sia Ngevao expressed her heartfelt gratitude to MRCG and its partners. She also pledged to continue her journalistic work in support of the wider journalism community. ARW/1/11/2023