– Vanessa Braithwaite is Young Journalist of the Year
JOURNALISTS in Guyana were urged to utilise their unrivalled power to shape the development of Guyana, when the Guyana Press Association (GPA) hosted its annual awards ceremony, which saw the Guyana Chronicle securing most of the awards, including the Young Journalist of the Year Award presented to Vanessa Braithwaite.
Eminent Attorney and Director of the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA) Nigel Hughes, in his address at the Georgetown Club Sunday evening, challenged journalists to play a more leading role in educating the citizenry on areas of national development, such as the oil-and-gas industry.
“You possess the power to anticipate and head off political disputes, which in Guyana quite often means ethnic or racial contretemps. For example, start the discussion on the issues of what are the critical requirements for the location of shore bases before some politician drags it into a sphere of ethnic discourse, about whether the chosen location is to satisfy some particular set of voters,” Hughes urged.
He reminded the journalists that they are the most critical elements in framing the discussion on development of the oil-and-gas industry and the future of Guyana.
“You possess the unrivalled power to shape the development of your country. Use it for this purpose rather than lend support to talking heads which are sometimes focused on making political points, spreading gloom and doom without presenting alternative solutions and approaches,” Hughes stated.
President of the Guyana Press Association, Nazima Raghubir, said despite many challenges, media operatives across the country remain the eyes and ears of the people.
Like Hughes, Raghubir underscored the critical role of the media in educating the populace.
“Our work is not mere reportage, but we are teachers and vessels of knowledge on various topics. In other cases, our work borders on becoming advocacy and our work becomes key to holding members of civil and political society accountable,” she said.
As a collective force, the media hold a great deal of power, but such should be used in a responsible manner, she said.
“What is important to this is that we recognise that we have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to be fair, balanced and ethical in what we do and say,” Raghubir emphasised.
Turning her attention to the media awards, the second of its kind in recent years, the GPA President disclosed that the 2018 awards attracted 31 media operatives, who submitted a total of 184 entries in 11 categories.
At the end of the awards, Vanessa Braithwaite of the Guyana Chronicle emerged at the top after copping a total of seven awards, including Young Journalist of the Year.
Braithwaite, who is the Guyana Chronicle’s Linden correspondent, also secured the top spot in the Best Feature and Investigative Journalist categories. The Lindener came in second in the Business and Finance; Political Issues; Environmental and Science Issues; Arts and Culture categories.
“I feel very elated to be awarded the Young Journalist of the Year Award, I still consider myself a baby in the media, being less than three years old. I would like to thank God who always provides me with the wisdom to write my stories. To tell the stories of the voiceless has been my recent passion and I will continue to strive to be the voice of the voiceless. I believe that journalism is about the people and we should always strive to be balanced and neutral,” Braithwaite said.
Meanwhile, Guyana Chronicle’s Online Editor Alva Solomon secured first place in the Agriculture Category, followed by Devina Samaroo from the Newsroom, and Indrawattie Natram.
In the Business and Finance category, Stabroek News’ Mariah Lall copped the top spot, while the Guyana Chronicle’s Navendra Seoraj came in third.
In the Best Videography category, News Room’s Leon Gonzales and Keon Blades came in first and second respectively.
News Room’s Avinash Ramzan was presented with the Sport Journalist of the Year Award, while Stabroek News’ Royston Alkins came in second, followed by Akreen Green of the News Room.
In the Photography category, Keno George, formerly of Stabroek News, was crowned Photographer of the Year, while Samuel Maughn and Delano Williams, both of the Guyana Chronicle came in second and third respectively.
For Arts and Culture Coverage, Mariah Lall dominated. Lisa Hamilton of the Guyana Chronicle received third place.
In the Best Feature Category, Braithwaite secured the top spot, while Solomon secured second place, followed by Sharda Bacchus of the Stabroek News. Ravin Singh, formerly of the Guyana Chronicle, received the Best Political Story Award, and Shemuel Fanfair secured the third position.
In the area of Environment and Science, Bacchus secured the top spot, while Lall was adjudged the third best reporter in this category. For Human Rights Issues, the Guyana Chronicle’s Deputy Chief Reporter Rabindra Rooplall secured the top spot, followed by Bibi Khatoon from the News Room and Lakhram Bhagirat of the Guyana Times.
In the category of Investigative Journalism, Seoraj secured second, while Bacchus came in third. Fanfair copped second place in the Young Journalist of the Year category, followed by Bhagirat who was placed third. No entry was submitted in the Oil and Gas category.