Online media dominate Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Awards

Online media outshined their print counterpart at this year’s Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism Awards with The Cable’s Fisayo Soyombo winning the top prize, the Nigerian Investigative Journalist of the Year.

Mr. Soyombo, the Editor of The Cable online newspaper, emerged winner ahead of Mojeed Alabi of the New Telegraph and Adekunle Ajayi, who won in the print and photojournalism categories respectively.

Mr. Soyombo had earlier won in the online category.

The 11th Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism Awards had more than 125 entries for the awards out of which 44 were in the print, 38 online, 12 television, two radio, 16 photojournalism, and 13 editorial cartoon categories.

Kabiru Yusuf, the chairman of Daily Trust newspaper, received the Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Journalism award, while the Public and Private Development Centre got the Anti-Corruption Defender award.

There were no awards for the radio, television, and editorial cartoon categories at this year’s event.

Lai Osho, the Chair of the 2016 Judges’ Board, said 90 percent of the entries were routine one-time stories, ordinary cartoons, opportunistic photographs, basic television features, and radio magazine reports.

“While some of them are fairly executed, the majority of the entries are unnecessarily verbose, badly edited and rarely investigative in nature,” said Mr. Osho, a professor and former Dean of the School of Communication, Lagos State University.

“They are pastiches of hurriedly put up stories but less intense and non-creative. Many, however, will do well in features writing awards. But this Wole Soyinka Awards is solely for investigative stories, and the main reasons why not all the award categories will not be honoured tonight.

Mr. Osho said the criteria used by the judges include quality of investigation, human rights element, quality of reporting, delivery and writing; while for photography, there are scores for visual interest, power to evoke emotions, and technical quality.

“The print media seems to be the most affected in the quality of materials presented and also in their language usage,” Mr. Osho continued.

“It seems as if the newsroom has no enterprise and is devoid of the gatekeepers in the age of declining circulation and poor advert revenues.

“On the other divide is online, growing in leaps and bounds, but with an increasing sloppiness, poor editing and over-reporting. In spite of this, however, the online platform shows the direction to the future of journalism in Nigeria, not minding that it is equally strewn with the landmines of hacks, bloggers and fakes.”

The night began with a one minute silence in honour of Adeyinka Adeparusi, a 2011 winner in the photo category, who died in a motorcycle accident in Abuja last month.

Ropo Sekoni, WSCIJ Board Chair, said the award aims to honour those who have pushed the envelope of exposing unwholesome behaviour in our society.

“When this programme was started several years ago, its founders, as clairvoyant as they might have been, could not have imagined how much corruption would be a recurrent word in every aspect of the country’s life.”

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