Dar es Salaam. A reporter for Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL), Mr Halili Letea, emerged the overall winner in the Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (EJAT) 2019, which was held in Tanga Region on Monday evening.
Mr Letea also scooped three different category awards before being crowned the overall winner.
Three other journalists from MCL namely Harieth Makwetta, Godfrey Kahango and Rehema Matowo also emerged top winners in different categories.
Mr Letea, who is a data reporter for MCL, won awards in education reporting, data journalism reporting, and oil, gas and mining governance.
Ms Hilda Phoya a journalist with the Azama TV was also the overall winner after receiving three awards in categories of business and economy, road safety and children. However Ms Phoya at the time she submitted the stories to MCT was working at Mlimani TV.
The other three MCL journalists won in children reporting award and safe menstruation.
Speaking on Monday evening after receiving the overall award, Mr Letea thanked the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) for organizing such an award, which recognized efforts made by journalists and their editors.
“I really didn’t expect to become the overall winner. It gives inspires me to do more. I am very grateful to the MCL team especially the editors from The Citizen newspaper who led me well to achieve this recognition which is to me a huge step in my career,” he said.
He encouraged young journalists and those who are new in media to work hard, saying hard work pays, adding it is his second year in the field.
The 2019 EJAT brought together various journalists who witnessed the presentation of the awards to winners in various categories.
Speaking at the event, secretary of the EJAT 2019 judging panel Pili Mtambalike said the process involved 450 journalists, with 56 finalists, including theAgnes Almas from ITV who died recently, leaving 55 competitors.
She said the MCT put journalists in competition in 21 categories including economy journalism, finance and trade, culture and sports, agriculture and business economics, education, tourism and environmental protection and Investigation.
Other areas are statistics, human rights and good governance, better photography, better photographers, gender information, elderly information, children’s mineral information, gas and oil, reproductive health, economic innovation, environmental impact advice road safety and safe menstruation.
She added that in the selection process, the panel identified shortcomings that need to be addressed by journalists and some of which apply to editors in newsrooms.
Among the shortcomings identified by the members are investigative reports not being published and encouraged journalists to write the investigative reports fearlessly.
“I know what challenges the investigative reporters face now ... but that should not discourage them, the job of journalism is to write in any context because the people depend on them,” she said.
MCT secretary Kajubi Mukajanga said for the first time the leadership has decided to start holding meetings outside Dar es Salaam to enable the community to see.
“So Tanga is the first region to receive and run the MCT EJAT awards ... we have decided move from Dar es Salaam. We are going to the regions so that they realise that this is their organ,” said Mr Mukajanga He said the EJAT awards were first presented in 2009.
Speaking after handing over the awards, Tanga Regional Commissioner (RC) Martin Shigela commended MCL for being the winner of the EJAT 2019 awards along with MCT for successfully deciding on the award to be held in his administrative region this year.
The RC urged MCT officials to look into the possibility of honoring the former chairman of IPP companies, the late Reginald Mengi, due to his contribution to the media industry during his lifetime.
More info: Background
During the award gala MCL grabbed six awards after three journalists became the winners in various categories.
The awards scheme organized by the MCT was established in 2009, since then MCL has grabbed four overall awards. The first overall winner went to senior journalist Lucas Liganga in 2012 who won in various categories including environment.
However in 2014 the two journalists in 2014, Mr Lucas Liganga and Mkinga Mkinga emerged overall winners in the investigative reporting category who are working in other companies.
Again in 2016, a reporter for Mwananchi Ms Florence Majani also emerged the overall winner in categories of culture and Human Rights and Good Governance categories. Now she is working with other companies.
And in 2019, the overall award went to Mr Halili Letea, a data journalist for MCL. For the past 11 years MCL reporters managed to grab various awards in categories and four overall winners.