What you need to know:
- The event was organised by the Voice for Women and Girls Rights that runs the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) project.
- It seeks to empower journalists to tell stories that highlight violations of human rights, especially those targeting women and girls.
Nation Media Group’s gender reporter Moraa Obiria carried the day at the Annual Human Rights Conference and Media Awards on Friday night, bagging the best reporter in the print category and emerging the overall winner of the competition.
Twice, Ms Obiria matched to the stage to receive her awards. The event was organised by the Voice for Women and Girls Rights that runs the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) project. It seeks to empower journalists to tell stories that highlight violations of human rights, especially those targeting women and girls.
The double-winner, who was also among the nominated finalists at the Human Rights Defenders Awards held on December 2, could not hide her joy as she received her trophies and gave a heartfelt speech.
“Being awarded the journalist of the year is an honour. It is a challenge today and it means a lot. It means they did see something in my work and I really thank everyone who helped me in the process,” she said.
The runner-up in the print category was Nancy Agutu of the Star, with Rosemary Mong’ina of Shahidi News coming third.Citizen TV’s Serfine Achieng won the television category award.
Rose Tawa of Radio Rama bagged the first prize in the radio category. In second place was Isaac Waihenya, with Stella Allex of Radio Domus coming third.
Hard times for media houses
The annual human rights conference and media awards celebrations came at a time when the media industry is facing uncertainties that have led to sharp declines in revenues, resulting in the loss of jobs across several media houses.
Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general Eric Oduor said the challenging times, worsened by frequent industry layoffs, had greatly interfered with the mental wellbeing of journalists.
“Even as we focus on other people while telling stories, it is very crucial that we, as journalists, also focus on our mental health as it is an aspect of human rights,” he said.
For her part, Daily Nation Executive Editor Pamella Sittoni said it was time media stakeholders adapted to the evolving technological changes causing disruption in the sector to safeguard the future of journalism.
She also thanked the JHR for mentoring and training journalists to be better champions of human rights and urged more philanthropists to make resources available for public-interest journalism.
“It is very tough to find people willing to fund commercial-based media houses with their interest focusing on non-commercial media entities. Who will now fund public-interest journalists?” she asked.
Churchill Otieno, the Kenya Editors’ Guild president, said journalism is a core pillar of democracy in any advanced nation and media practitioners should do everything within their power to hold leaders to account.
“Solidarity. We should find ways to bind our efforts and fight for our space. Strength of democracy depends on media deliverance,” he said.
The other journalists recognised for outstanding work in highlighting crucial human rights issues included Steve Otieno of the Daily Nation (NMG).