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General News Sun, 20 Jul 2008

President asks journalists to mobilize societies for development

Accra, July 20, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor, on Saturday said the only way the media in Africa could justifiably lay claim to their watchdog role was for them to share with governments the responsibility of ensuring that the opportunities for development were widespread and maximized across the continent.

"With the support of a vibrant and responsible media to mobilize the various societies behind respective national programmes, appreciable progress can still be made in achieving our development goals as nations and as a continent," he said.

He made the statement in a special message to the award winners of the CNN, Multichoice African Journalists Awards 2008. The awards, jointly organized by CNN, Multichoice and Ghanaian-based Global Media Alliance, of which the Executive Chairman, is also the founder of the awards, saw 17 out of 23 nominees from 14 African countries awarded in 16 categories.

The final 23 were selected from almost 2,000 entries from 44 African countries, the highest number of entries since the inception of the awards.

Hopewell Rugoho-Chin'ono, a television documentary maker from Zimbabwe won the Overall CNN, Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Award. He also won the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS reporting.

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Ghana's Israel Laryea of Joy FM won the Radio General News Award and the Environment Award went to Emmanuel Mayah of Nigeria. In his message, the President noted that most African countries were behind in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the close of 2015, but the media could support their countries in making appreciable progress by mobilizing the various societies behind the various national programmes.

"In Africa, it is unlikely that, all countries will achieve all of the MDGs by the target date. However, with the support of a vibrant and responsible media to mobilize the various societies behind respective national programmes, appreciable progress can still be made in achieving the MDGs," he said.

President Kufuor said beyond political reporting, media practitioners were challenged to develop expertise in technical areas such as technology, energy, telecom, transportation, agriculture, healthcare delivery, tourism and cultural integration to give impetus and confidence to both investors and the peoples of the continent, to facilitate the realization of development objectives as contained in the NEPAD.

"Media practitioners need to educate themselves properly in the areas that affect the development of their nations in other that, they will play their role as the fourth estate of the realm more effectively," he said. He described the media as truly an estate of the realm, saying that with the recent technological advance in information dissemination where information could go round the world spontaneously, the media had such inordinate influence and power at its disposal. President Kufuor implored the media to be circumspect and responsible in their reportage on issues about the continent and determine to use their power in the interest of their societies instead of for disruptive and destructive purposes. He called for the establishment of appropriate institutional and regulatory framework and systems at the national and international levels, including training, to guarantee uniform values, standards and disciplines of professional practice with requisite sanctions for any lapses.

"In that same vein those media practitioners who perform exceptionally, must be rewarded accordingly," he said.

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The rest of the award winners were Deji Badmus, Nigeria - TV General News Bulletin, Peter Moyo, South Africa - TV General News - Current Affairs, Barbara Angopa, Uganda - Arts and Culture Award, Marjorie Copeland, South Africa - Best Feature in Consumer Magazine, John Grobler, Namibia - Economic and Business and Richard Mgamba, Tanzania - Print General News.

Others were Fernando Lima, Mozambique - Portuguese Language General News, Mutwiri Mutuota, Kenya - Sports Award, Evaline Ngono, Cameroon, Tourism Award, Koumoureoua Issa Napon of Burkina Faso won the electronic category of the Franchophone General News Award, whiles Nassima Oulebsir won the print category of the same award. Winner of the Health and Medical Award, Bamuturaki Musinguzi was dressed in his traditional Ugandan regalia, which exposed his bear chest and legs to the amusement of the august audience, but Boniface Mwangi from Kenya, winner of the Mohamed Amin Photography Award wept and got some guests sobbing too when he told the sad story of how he shot pictures of children left at the mercy of wild dogs whiles security officers looked on and laughed.

The Free Press award went to Seyhoum Tsehaye of Eritrea, but his wife did him the honours because Seyhoum is in jail for daring to report that some journalists and politicians he previously met in jail were incarcerated without trial. The awards night, co-hosted by famous Kenyan CNN Anchor Zain Vergee and Soni Irabor of African Independent Television, Nigeria, was for the first time in its history, telecast live on free television, GTV and Metro TV in Ghana and was also recorded for later telecast in 40 other countries, including the US and the UK.

Source: GNA