Three members of IAWRT Kenya were recognized at the Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) 2023. Lourdes Walusala won Gender Reporting at Best Production in radio. Ruth Keah won Podcast of the Year. Mercy Tyra won awards in the radio and digital formats.
Pamela Sittoni received the Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been one of IAWRT Kenya’s mentors and regular speaker to our mentees on editorial matters.
One of IAWRT Kenya’s mentees in the last cohort, Hiback Mohammed, won for her report ‘ICT & Innovation reporting’ in the television category.
The AJEA is Kenya’s prestigious journalism awards, given since 2012 for print, broadcast, and now digital journalism, handed out by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK). The MCK is a statutory and self-regulatory body established through the Media Council Act 2013 to regulate and enhance the journalism profession and protect media freedom in Kenya.
The MCK said AJEA has consistently demonstrated its commitment to shining light on critical issues that shape Kenyan society and the media landscape. Through the Awards, the media has helped inform and trigger debates, nurture dialogue, and advance understanding of the defining challenges of current times.
Read below IAWRT Kenya’s interview with AJEA winner Mercy Tyra:
Q: Congratulations on your recognition at the AJEA 2023 for your outstanding contributions to journalism! How does it feel?
A: It is an honor. I am grateful to God and to all those who trusted me with their stories
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in journalism, and how will this award influence your work?
A: My grandmother (May her soul rest in peace) was the inspiration behind my career. Being the teacher that she was, She would come with pied crow magazines and would tell me to imitate the late Catherine Kasavuli reading the news. Slowly by slowly, I gained courage and started a journalism club in my high school where I would be sent to drama festivals and games to compile results and report during assembly. My mother (a high school principal) held my hand and gave me an opportunity to choose any college of my choice that I thought I would get the best journalism skills at that time. I did, and the rest is history. I intend to use this award as a motivation to the upcoming journalists by training them on how to pitch award-winning stories.
Q: Could you tell us about the story that earned you this award? What was the inspiration behind it?
A: The title was, ”How livestock insurance saved a soul” – This Feature story educates the public on the importance of Livestock insurance especially to farmers from arid and semi-arid areas where climate change is a major challenge. Wangwe, a livestock farmer is among those who could not survive the shock of losing his 4 expectant cows had he not insured at least one. Due to the loss he had incurred, he was compensated by an insurance company and was able to bounce back to his feet.
The inspiration behind this story was the fact that most farmers do not know that they can ensure their livestock and get compensated in case of any loss hence leading to depression. The desire to educate this group of people was a major inspiration.
Another inspiration was the fact that my mother is a high school business teacher. I wanted to prove the fact that all her efforts in ensuring that I got it right in business reporting did not go in vain. I dedicate this business category award to her.
Q: What challenges did you face while doing the story?
A: Language barrier and harsh climate conditions
Q: What unique challenges do you think to affect women journalists from achieving their best? Fear of the unknown
A: Lack of opportunities and support from their media houses
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring journalists who are looking to excel in the field? Integrity, discipline, and hard work is key to climbing the ladder.