Herald Business columnist Jeffrey Gogo last Friday scooped the 2012 E-Africa Overall Environmental Reporter of the Year and the Most Consistent Reporter awards. He walked away with prize money, two trophies and certificates at a colourful ceremony held at the Rainbow Towers in Harare.
The Herald was rewarded for being the Most Consistent Media House that has given space to the reportage of the environment whose importance is shown by its being the seventh of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
The other winners for the night were Patrick Musira of The Suburban News, who won the Best Print Media Award, and Phineas Gutu of ZBC-TV, who was awarded the Best Electronic Reporter prize.
This year's awards had a different dimension and were jointly sponsored by the Rainbow Tourism Group and NewsDay while Nyaradzo, the country's most prominent funeral services company, also came on board to double the prize money offered by the main sponsor, Environment Africa.
According to the panel of judges, this year there were close to 40 entries and the level of competition was several notches higher than what has been experienced in previous years.
"Judges were excited and amazed at the passion, dedication and enthusiasm displayed by journalists in covering major environmental issues in the country. Their resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing environmental stories has our deepest admiration.
"We commend all journalists who continue to bravely report on environmental issues and stories around the country. They, in a way, actively work to ensure that the stories that need to be told are heard, the images that no one wants to see are shown and the sounds of people in need are listened to.
"In vying for the Environmental Reporter of the Year Award, Zimbabwe's ultimate symbol of environmental journalistic excellence, journalists told unforgettable, heart-wrenching and true-to-life experiences of major environmental issues ordinary Zimbabweans are encountering," read part of the report compiled by the judges.
They noted that they had all agreed that the best piece in the competition was an article titled: "ICTs critical in mitigating impacts of climate change" which Gogo authored.
In the article the Herald Business scribe dealt with the subject in a sensitive way, showed a depth of research and good use of analytical skills. The story also introduced the reader to something new, analysing how ICTs could be harnessed to respond to climate change-related impacts.
"The journalist took the reader with him to the 1999/2000 Cyclone Eline-induced flooding period that claimed the lives of many and destroyed infrastructure, crops and livestock running into thousands of dollars, analysed how ICTs can be used to save villagers in flood-prone areas in the Zambezi and Save valleys.
"He told readers how ICTs could be used effectively to provide information on planting, weather, prices and other extension work. It is an all-round detailed story that was well told on a subject which had never been reported on before.
"His uncommon story telling abilities, his in-depth understanding of current and ongoing local and international environmental debates and his consistency in reporting on the environment is remarkable. For all this, judges were unanimous in choosing Jeffrey Gogo as the overall winner for the 2012 Environmental Reporter of the Year.
"The winner for this award is one of the best, most thorough and most consistent environmental reporters to ever emerge in Zimbabwe in recent years. He repeatedly takes on important environmental stories and gives them their due, with attentive, high quality, intelligent journalism."
Commenting on the awards, Gogo said: "The awards are an acknowledgement of the importance of the work that I am doing in educating the people of Zimbabwe about the issues that are critical to their livelihoods. That is satisfying."
The Herald was saluted for giving prominence to environmental matters at a time when there are competing political and economic issues.
This is also a media house that has most of the reporters who have scooped the environmental awards and one that continues to give in-depth analysis of environmental matters. The number of reporters from this publication that have won this award over the years is a testimony to the paper's dedication and commitment in safeguarding our country's environment.
Nyaradzo Group chief executive and a champion for the environment, Mr Phillip Mataranyika, was the guest of honour at the event.