Media Awards recognizes quality journalism in Somalia

Feb 18, 2014

© Lindsey Peterson/UNDP Somalia

On the 17th of February, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and United Nations partners celebrated the winners of the 2013 Somali Media Awards competition. As part of journalist competition throughout Somalia, these awards recognized professionalism and excellence in the Somali media sector.

A strong media is one that strives for utmost accuracy and objectivity and promotes human rights. Journalism can be an agent for positive change, and a fair and impartial media sector can highlight critical humanitarian issues in Somalia, as well as promote peace and development in public dialogue.

In light of this, the Somali Media Awards were established to encourage journalists to excel and exhibit professionalism in their field. Journalists submitted entries across four categories: gender, children and youth, access to basic services, and investigative journalism. Winners were chosen anonymously and transparently by a jury of veteran Somali journalists with support from UN communications experts.

“The quality of the winning entries and the professional style of presentation employed by the winners in the four categories is a testimony to the dedication and rising professionalism amongst the media talent in Somalia. I am delighted to recognize these talents through the media awards,” said Philippe Lazzarini, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) for Somalia.

Lazzarini said it was vital that the Somali media is supported to continue in its role as an unbiased voice of the people, which reports responsibly and professionally. A strong media sector is also one of the pillars of resilient civil society. Journalists should continue to defend the rights of vulnerable people in their communities and in their respective areas to contribute to peace, justice, and freedom.

“Despite the dangerous environment in which they operate, Somali journalists have over the past years shown a remarkable dedication to highlighting the humanitarian and development issues in the country. The UN is committed in building a strong, vibrant and responsible media for the benefit of all Somali people,” Lazzarini added.

The media has a great potential to promote and sustain development issues, such as gender equality and mainstreaming, in the public consciousness. This can be done through specific reporting on gender issues, such as gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, and political participation of women. It can also be done through positive profiling of women in the news, and through a greater inclusion of women’s opinions in the news.

Likewise, the media can play a vital role in promoting the rights of children and youth and informing the public of basic services available to them. It can be a voice for those to who risk being unheard and can be a tool to hold all of us who work on humanitarian and development issues to not just deliver programmes and projects, but to deliver results. A strong and free media sector will promote global human rights that will play a huge role in the continued and greater development of Somalia.

The winners were awarded equipment to support their work, including laptops and voice recorders. By recognizing media excellence and the integrity of Somali journalists, the 2013 Media Awards will acknowledge, inspire, support and promote media excellence in Somalia.

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