awards for top journalists

Gugu Sibiya

Journalists have the responsibility to inform, educate and entertain societies, yet are rarely acknowledged for this vital role.

The Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards are beginning to fill that niche and also provide financial rewards for news people.

Regarded as one of South Africa's premier journalism honours, they afford a winning journalist a chance to win more than R1 million in prize money.

The 2008 Vodacom Journalist of the Year winner will pocket R125000 in cash. He will also be given the chance to plough back R125000 into the community by donating the amount to a charity of his or her choice.

Entries for the prestigious competition opened on Friday.

In addition to the big prize, each national winner receives R15000 and a BlackBerry® smartphone, while every regional category winner will receive R7500.

Editors throughout South Africa are encouraged to identify their most promising young journalists who have been in the business for a minimum of two and a maximum of five years and enter them for the Editor's Choice Award.

The winner will receive a grant to study for three months at the prestigious Thomson Foundation in Wales, one of the best centres for media training in the world.

A new exciting category - online journalism - has been introduced this year. It is aimed at Internet and MP3-based media who produce podcasts, blogs, photography and web-based newsletters and columns.

There are a total of 14 categories for entrants to choose from: TV general news; TV feature; print general news; print feature; radio news; radio feature; financial-economic; columnist; cartoonist; photographer; sport; community media; online journalism; and editor's choice.

All material must have been published or broadcast between May 1 2007 and April 30 2008. Entries close on July 24.

The final awards will take place at a function to be held in Johannesburg in November.

A Lifetime Achievement Award honours a journalist who has made a significant contribution to the profession.