News24 has scooped four honours at the 2019 edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards ceremony, including the prestigious Journalist of the Year and Investigations awards.
Cape Town-based journalist Tammy Petersen was honoured as the premier entrant at this year's ceremony, winning the overall Journalist of the Year award for her in-depth news and feature series on the impact of gang violence on the Cape Flats and surrounding areas.
Petersen won the Feature/Lifestyle category initially, before taking the overall prize.
Writing in their citation, the judges commended the journalist for going out of her way "to tell the story of what are sometimes called ordinary people on the Cape Flats".
"What she found were stories of compelling compassion and people needing extraordinary courage in order to live decent lives. She reflected sensitively on their daily struggles and gave a voice to many people who would not ordinarily have a voice - which is what good journalism is supposed to be about," wrote the judges.
They described the seven-part series as "bold and heart-rending".
News24 investigative journalist Kyle Cowan won the national award in the Investigative category for his series of articles revealing new insights into Bosasa-related claims of state capture and the functions of the controversial services company.
The judges said Cowan "showed impressive and ongoing national impact, pre-empting evidence before the Zondo commission [of inquiry into state capture] and new twists keeping the topic of Bosasa on the country's radar".
Fin24 took home the Data Journalism award for its special report, written and researched by Liesl Pretorius, on mobile operators' data prices.
The judges commended Pretorius' work for unravelling "the full complexities of the mobile operators' stances on data pricing, the role played by spectrum, and what it will take to change the pricing structure".
"The national winning entry covered a subject that is often opaque to most journalists, going into intensive, yet readable detail," the citation read.
News24 Editor Adriaan Basson commended his team, saying he was "proud" of their achievements.
"I am extremely proud of my colleagues for taking the top spots in feature writing, investigative journalism and data journalism. These are all forms of journalism that will shape the future of our craft. I am particularly thrilled that Tammy received the much-deserved award for national journalist of the year. A journalist with more heart, passion and dedication to her stories I have yet to meet."
The full citation for the Vodacom Journalist of the Year 2019:
The Chinese have a curse: "May you live in interesting times."
South Africans have always lived in interesting times and we have had a surfeit of huge stories. The struggle against apartheid was one of the biggest stories in the world at the time. The rampant corruption in our country in recent years was another.
But a big story in South Africa has been all but ignored by the media and the world. This is the virtual genocide in the part of South Africa known as the Cape Flats where dozens of people are murdered on a weekly basis.
It was only when the army moved in an attempt to quell the violence, that many people took notice.
One writer went out of her way to tell the story of what are sometimes called ordinary people on the Cape Flats. What she found were stories of compelling compassion and people needing extraordinary courage in order to live decent lives.
She reflected sensitively on their daily struggles and gave a voice to many people who would not ordinarily have a voice - which is what good journalism is supposed to be about. We hope that her work will encourage others to start focusing on what is one of the big and overlooked stories of our time.
For her body of work, a gang war series titled "When you live in Hanover Park, you know death", our Vodacom Journalist of the Year is Tammy Petersen of News24.