ThisDay Newspapers Wednesday won two different categories of the 2017 Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME), thereby reaffirming its long-time tradition of robust journalism in the country.
Under the Best Designed Newspaper of the Year category, THISDAY was ranked foremost while its traditional rivals, The Guardian and The Punch Newspapers, came behind. The President of Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mrs. Funke Egbemode presented the award.
THISDAY equally clinched UNICEF Prize for Most Child Friendly Medium for objectively championing the course of children in education, health, security and nutrition among others. The award was presented by Mr. Niyi Opeodu.
The DAME organisers under the leadership of Mr. Lanre Idowu adjudged THISDAY best in the second award for "its consistent focus on the Nigerian child across sectors such as health, education, security and nutrition," a citation from DAME read, while acknowledging the rationale for the latter award.
The Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In his remarks, the veteran journalist said: "There is a crisis in the country's journalism," calling for critical reforms.
He succinctly reflected on how the intervention of the media had secured Nigeria freedom from the military in between 1970s and 1990s, thereby heralding democratic order.
Unlike in the last three decades, Olorunyomi said the Nigeria media industry "is undergoing systemic crisis. We are going through the most critical time. However, it is not peculiar to Nigeria. While the media in the developed countries are responding to their challenges, we are not doing the same in Nigeria.
"We have more than 45,000 media Professionals in Nigeria. There is no incentive for them to remain in the industry. However, there is no problem that cannot be solved. The leaders in the industry must work together to bring about critical reforms."
In his address, the DAME chief executive buttressed Olorunyomi's position, noting that he never knew the award ceremony could be held this year due to what he attributed to tough time, which he said the country had been going through.
However, according to him, what is most important is to keep the culture of excellence alive in Nigeria's media industry. This is an ideal that should be kept alive irrespective of what the country is going through.
He spoke about the process of selecting the winners of the awards, noting that the process "is fair, and transparent. We are all here because this is our collective interest."
Other newspapers that won awards at the ceremonywere The Punch Newspaper, The Nation, The Guardian and New Telegraph.
No radio and television, broadcast station received an award due to what Idowu ascribed to dissatisfactory entries.
The Punch received 'the Best Newspaper of the Year', while Martins Oloja of the Guardian Newspaper won the Alade Odunewu Prize for Informed Journalism with his diatribe, 'Why we need better universities, not more'. Likewise, the Editor of the Year Award went to Mr. Martin Ayankola of The Punch Newspaper.
Overall, the DAME chief executive said the entries showed a lot of enthusiasm, patriotism and concern for the nation's well being, but a lot of re-training still needs to be done to maximise the impact of journalism in the country.
Other category winners were Gbenro Adeoye of The Punch Newspaper who won the News Agency of Nigeria Prize for Agriculture Reporting with his story 'Working like elephants, eating like ants: Sad tales of Nigeria's poor female oil processors'.
Likewise, Mr. Taiwo Alimi of The Punch Newspaper won the S.O Idowu Prize for Sports Reporting with his story 'The Making of Olympic Champions.'
Mr. Olatunji Ololade of The Nation Newspaper scooped home the UNICEF Prize for Child Friendly Reporting with his story 'This Child has no blame'.
Mr. Suleiman Husaini of the New Telegraph newspaper won the Hakeem Shitta Memorial Prize for News Photography with his work 'Collapsed Building'.
Ms. Nike Popoola of The Punch Newspaper clinched the Sovereign Trust Insurance Prize for Insurance Reporting.
Mr. Olatunji Ololade of The Nation Newspaper won the Justice Morenikeji Onalaja Memorial Prize for Judicial Reporting for his story 'Life on Death Row: Tragic lives of Nigerian prisoners.'
The Punch Newspaper clinched the Tunji Oseni Memorial Prize for Editorial Writing with 'Nigeria's economy and the future of oil'.
Toluwani Eniola and Umar Mohammed of The Punch Newspaper won the Sam Amuka Prize for Investigative Reporting with 'Gikin-de-gikin: Nassarawa's condomless sex fuels HIV epidemic.'