South Africa’s public allies and warriors for reporting the truth have been unveiled, as the regional finalists in the Vodacom Journalist of the Year competition are revealed for 2023.
More than 1300 entries were received nationally in 2023 across 12 categories. In support of developing journalism in South Africa, Vodacom funds the winner of the Young Journalist award on an all-expenses paid course in an effort to assist in upskilling young talent. Regional category winners receive R5 000, national category winners, R10 000, and the overall Vodacom Journalist of the Year winner an impressive R100 000.
The 2023 theme for the awards is Authentic Information and Hybrid Content, at a time when journalists are challenged to rise above generative artificial intelligence (AI), and to push factual information.
“As journalists are employed to inform the public, it is crucial that the information they are sharing is truthful and authentic,” said Takalani Netshitenzhe, Vodacom South Africa’s Director of External Affairs. “The misuse of news reporting can lead to mistrust by the public. Vodacom is proud to play a role in encouraging journalists to bring important issues to light, in a manner that is factual and original. Congratulations to all of our regional finalists for their efforts.”
The 2023 VJOY judging panel was convened by Mapi Mhlangu, with Neo Ntsoma joining the panel to assist with the photography category. Vodacom extended its thanks to stalwart judges Jermaine Craig, Ryland Fisher, Arthur Goldstuck, Patricia McCracken, Professor Gilbert Motsaathebe, Collin Nxumalo, Jovial Rantao, Elna Rossouw, Advocate Robin Sewlal and Obed Zilwa.
The Western Cape region accounted for the second-highest number of submissions. “These journalists played a pivotal role in unveiling concealed trusts, amplifying successful initiatives, and pinpointing areas that require improvement. The competition within this province was intense, serving as a testament to the formidable journalism strength in the area which exemplifies why we should continue to celebrate and honour the country’s journalistic endeavours,” the judges said.
The regional winners are:
- Live reporting/ breaking news – Victoria O’Regan from Daily Maverick for “Docking in the dark — Sanctioned Russian ship drops anchor at Simon’s Town Naval Base”.
- Investigative – Daniel Steyn and Marecia Damons from GroundUp for “Investigation into Thabo Bester’s escape from prison”.
- Opinion – Kelly Anderson from News24 for ‘I will speak up for Anele Tembe as AKA’s bronze statue takes shape’.
- Lifestyle – Willemien Brümmer of Netwerk24 for a series of articles on dementia.
- Features – Claire Keeton from The Sunday Times for body of work on bipolar disorder: “Riding the Waves” and the long-term effect of Covid, “Haunted by Long Covid”.
- Photography – Jaco Marais from Media24, Western Cape for his portfolio of work.
- Sport – Thobeka Phanyeka from Glamour Magazine for “Disruptor”.
- Financial and Economics – Steve Kretzmann of GroundUp for “Post Office has failed to pay into employees’ retirement fund for three years”.
- Politics – Joint winners Jan Gerber and Karyn Maughan from News24 for “The Impeachment of Busisiwe Mkhwebane” and Jason Felix from News24 for “Dysfunctipalities: SA’s municipalities are already problematic and those in charge aren’t qualified”.
- Sustainability – Steve Kretzmann from GroundUp for “Almost two-thirds of South African municipalities responsible for supplying drinking water to residents are either failing to provide water that meets the minimum drinking standards, or simply failing to test the water they supply”.
- Innovation in journalism – Aron Hyman of TimesLive for podcast series “Cape of Cocaine”.
- Young Journalist of the Year Award – Tamsin Metelerkamp from Daily Maverick.
The national awards ceremony takes place in Johannesburg on Thursday, 30 November.