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2020 Regional winners announced in Vodacom’s Journalist Of The Year Awards

KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga journalists scoop awards across various categories

By Staff Writer

Winners of the 19th Vodacom Journalist of the Year (VJOY) regional awards were announced for KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga region today, recognising some of the best journalistic talent in South Africa. All VJOY events are being held virtually in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Vodacom South Africa Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs said: “Marking VJOY in 2020 during a global pandemic, we were delighted to receive our highest ever number of VJOY entries this year. Despite the mounting difficulties which media have faced during the pandemic, journalists around the country have gone the extra mile to bring news and information to South Africans during the national state of disaster.  I was thrilled to see reporting that not only exposed corruption and criminal activity, but to see stories on how Covid-19 has illuminated social inequalities and gender-based violence in the country.  Vodacom is proud of its continued association with the VJOYs and we look forward to paying tribute to the country’s top journalists in the weeks to come.”

Ryland Fisher, convener of the judging panel, said that the judges were impressed by the quality of the entries: “Despite the impact of a shrinking economy and the havoc wreaked by COVID-19 on our industry, journalists continued to do what they do best: breaking stories; writing beautiful, descriptive features; investigating corruption and other crimes; capturing the best news moments on film, video and audio; and keeping viewers, listeners and readers informed. We are proud that South African journalists have once again stepped up when confronted by a difficult situation.”

Appropriately, the theme this year is ‘Re-Imagine, Re-Invent, and Re-Build’ because the country and world as a whole has had to adapt to fast-changing times. The 2020 awards received a record number of entries – more than 1 300 from around the country. There was one change to the categories this year, which saw Innovation in Journalism replace Multiplatform and Data journalism.

The regional winners per category are as follows:

Lifestyle, Dasen Thathiah with Susanna Holmes, Nkanyiso Mdlalose and Mcebisi Sithole – eNCA

Photography, Sandile Ndlovu – Sunday Times

Sport, Lungani Zama – New Frame

Features, Niren Tolsi – Mail & Guardian

Financial and Economics, Nokuthula Ntuli – The Witness

Politics, Zimasa Matiwane – Sunday Times

Sustainability, Jayed-Leigh Paulse with Zamani Dludla and Ndabezinhle Khumalo -SABC TV 

Opinion, Bheki Mncube – The Witness

Live Reporting and Breaking News,  Dasen Thathiah, assisted by Nkanyiso Mdlalose, Neil Raath and Mcebisi Sithole  – eNCA

Innovation in Journalism, Gareth Jenkinson – East Coast Radio

Investigative, Tania Broughton – Sunday Times

Young Journalist nominee, Lwandile Bhengu – Sunday Times

Regional category winners receive R5 000 each, national category winners take home R10 000 each, with the coveted national accolade of Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award winner receiving R100 000. In the event of joint winners, the prize money will be shared. The winner of the young journalist award will win an all-expenses-paid overseas trip that includes a visit to the Thomson Foundation, as well as the opportunity to work in a newsroom.

A special thanks to the 2020 Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards panel of judges: Ryland Fisher, Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, Jovial Rantao, Elna Rossouw and Obed Zilwa.

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