Tuesday, June 19, 2018

CNN International and MultiChoice dump the African Journalist Awards, says honouring Africa's best journalists became too big and expensive.

CNN International and MultiChoice have decided to dump the African Journalist Awards, the African continent's most prestigious competition for journalists, saying that honouring the best journalism from Africa has become too big and expensive.

CNN International (DStv 401) and MultiChoice in response to a media enquiry revealed that they have scrapped the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards that usually takes place in October and celebrated the best of pan-African journalism over the past two decades.

The competition held over the past 20 years have seen the number of entries grow rapidly every year as it fostered respect and understanding for journalists and their important work, something that's very often a dangerous and thankless job in Africa.

The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards also served as an incentive for various African nations to improve their press freedom laws as they vied to be a host country, gave valuable exposure to a country's local tourism as a large group of journalists from across the continent would annually descend on a specific country, and provided an economic boost for the host city putting up the awards show.

The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards didn't take place in 2017 but last year the TV news channel from Turner Broadcasting and MultiChoice Africa said they were reviewing the competition and remained committed to celebrating African journalism.

2017 would have marked the 22nd time that African journalists in print, online, radio and television across Africa would have entered this competition, with winners who get cash prizes and the overall winner getting the chance to visit CNN Headquarters in Atlanta and participating in the CNN Journalism Fellowship.

In a joint response in October 2017 CNN and MultiChoice Africa told TVwithThinus that the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards that took place in South Africa and various African countries over alternating years and broadcast on CNN International would not happening last year but that "CNN and MultiChoice are currently reviewing the format of the African Journalist Awards. We are committed to supporting and celebrating journalism across the continent, and we will share details as soon as we are ready".

Now it's axed.

CNN in 2016 said that it is "committed to the African story, not just editorially, but also in terms of supporting its own journalistic enterprise through the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards."

The dumping of the competition comes after the death of Maggie Eales (67) in November 2015 from cancer, the CNN executive and former journalist who during her 20 year career at CNN was the driving force behind the development and growth of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards.

In response to a media enquiry from TVwithThinus, CNN International and MultiChoice say that "following a thorough review of the African Journalist Awards, CNN and MultiChoice have come to the difficult decision to not continue the awards" because it became too big and expensive to honour journalism through the competition.

"While we remain committed to championing quality journalism in the future, continuing a traditional awards programme of this scale was no longer sustainable. We have been immensely proud to celebrate African journalism through this awards format over the last 20 years and honoured to meet and support the many inspiring young journalists who have since grown and developed their careers over the years."

"We thank the many judges, companies and institutions who have supported the awards during this time."

According to the organisers the review looked at many options but couldn't find a solution to continue the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards in a way that would bring it up to date and reduce cost while not diminishing its prestige.

The axing comes as censorship across Africa is growing while press freedom in several African nations are eroding, ranging from a crackdown on not just traditional media outlets like newspapers, radio stations and television news being shut down but also general entertainment content on TV channels being censored and draconian new laws to limit and tax ordinary citizen's use of social media, and forcing bloggers to register and pay exorbitant registration fees.