Health-e places 2nd in African reporting challenge

Left: Eugene Nforngwa, Rebecca Davis (winner), Kerry Cullinan & Declan Okpalaeke

The winner of the African Story Challenge Health Reporting competition has been announced at an award ceremony in Mauritius. Rebecca Davis, of South African daily online newspaper, Daily Maverick took the top prize for her story  “Coughing up for Gold” –  an in-depth look at the toll mining has taken on the health of former South African mine workers and their fight for compensation.

Kerry Cullinan of Health-e News Service in South Africa came second. Kerry’s story, “Shots in the  Dark? Vaccinations in South Africa” is an investigation into childhood vaccines in South Africa.

In third place was Cameroonian journalist Eugene Nforngwa of the Standard Tribune. He told the story of how poor infrastructure is keeping heart patients from accessing much needed care.

Out of more than 200 story ideas entered in the competition, 20 finalists were selected by a technical review panel to receive grants and undergo training that helped them produce compelling multi-media stories.

Out of the 20 excellent stories produced, “Coughing up for Gold” was selected as the winning entry by a panel of independent judges.

“You could sense that the author had really spent much time on this story, conceptualizing, planning and executing,” said Omar Ben Yedder, chair of the judges panel and group publisher of IC publications. “It was evident that the grant allowed the journalist to experiment and do things differently. The story was engaging, well told and flawless in its presentation. A worthy winner.”

Rebecca Davis wins a fully sponsored international reporting trip, while the runners-up walk away with high-tech gadgets for use in their daily reporting work.

“The health cycle was very competitive and the themes covered were rich and diverse,” said The African Story Challenge Editor Joseph Warungu . “We are excited to see more good quality investigative and well told multi-media stories continue to emerge from journalists who have gone through the Story Challenge programme.”

The new cycle of the African Story Challenge focuses on Business and Technology. The deadline for receiving entries is 16 May 2014, and journalists can apply via the competition website. Twenty of the best story ideas will be selected to receive grants of up to $20,000 to support the journalists in producing comprehensive multimedia stories. The finalists will also undergo an intensive story camp with mentor support to improve their ideas.

The African Story Challenge is a project of the African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators, in partnership with the International Center for Journalists. Warungu, who is AMI’s Content Strategies Director, developed the project while an ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow attached to AMI.

The contest is supported by an $800,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme also has support from the African Development Bank and the Norwegian development agency, NORAD.


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