The National Aids Council (NAC) recently held its inaugural media awards at a colourful ceremony held in Harare. The awards, which will be an annual event, are meant to appreciate journalists and media houses that correctly and consistently cover the HIV and Aids story.
By Tadiwa Nyatanga-Pfupa
Winners were selected on the basis of frequency, accuracy, correctness of facts, among other things, in terms of their reporting.
The awards follow NAC’s realisation that the media has been playing a critical role in disseminating new information on HIV and Aids since 1985 when the first case of HIV was reported in Zimbabwe. Therefore, journalists should be motivated to continue to report professionally, objectively and ethically on these issues.
The adjudication process which was based on monitoring of articles was carried out by experts in the media industry from across the country.
Guest of honour at the awards, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa indicated that the media was one of the key drivers of the widespread awareness and knowledge that the people of Zimbabwe now have about HIV and Aids. He also applauded the media for being instrumental in disseminating information on the utilisation of prevention and treatment services.
“I therefore would like to salute the editors and journalists here for their dedicated work in keeping the HIV and Aids story alive and appealing to the public,” Parirenyatwa said.
He encouraged journalists to keep improving in their reporting and to use language that is sensitive to the people who are infected and affected.
Speaking at the same function, chairperson of the public relations and advocacy committee in the NAC board, Beatrice Tonhodzayi said the awards were an addition to an already functional partnership that NAC has with the media. She said the media was a key partner in the response to HIV which NAC highly values.
“These awards are therefore a statement of commitment by NAC to recognise individual journalists and media houses that go an extra mile in unravelling the intricacies of HIV and Aids and its various socio-economic linkages,” she said.
The first prize was won by Sharon Kavhu of The Southern Times, who was represented at the function by her mother as she was out of the country on business. She walked away with a full sponsorship to the Conference on HIV Science to be held in France, which she will attend for five days, a certificate and a trophy. Tinomuda Chakanyuka of The Sunday News was the second prize winner and got a full sponsorship to Cote d’Ivoire for the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa for five days, a trophy and a certificate.
Mirirai Nsingo of the H-Metro was third and received a trophy, certificate and prize money. NAC also awarded Zimpapers and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for the widest coverage in the print and electronic media respectively while ZiFM Stereo was recognised for timeous reporting.
Chakanyuka thanked NAC for acknowledging reporters who report on HIV and Aids. He said, “I am particularly happy with the sponsorships which I believe will enrich us as journalists and allow us to interact with reporters from other countries and learn from each other.”
He dedicated his award to his colleagues in the media fraternity and everyone living with HIV who he said “are our heroes.”
Over the years, NAC has been taking journalists on tours around the country to have an appreciation of activities on HIV interventions.
The organisation has also been holding training workshops for journalists and editors to update them on new developments in the response to HIV and to enhance their appreciation and effective coverage of HIV and Aids issues.