Gabriel Alonta, Others Win Okunna Prize for Ethical Journalism
By Izunna Okafor
Gabriel Chidiebere Alonta, a senior reporter and head, Education Desk at the Orient Daily Newspaper, Awka, Anambra state, has been named the 1st runner up in the maiden Prof. Chinyere Okunna Prize for Ethical Journalism.
This was announced over the weekend at the NUJ Secretariat in Awka, Anambra state capital, during the 2020 Anambra Media Roundtable, tagged "Government, Media and Social Relevance".
The reporter's investigative report on "Torture as an Instrument for Extracting Forced Confession from Suspects", came 2nd out of 17 entries recieved for the maiden competition.
David-Chyddy Eleke of This Day Newspaper emerged first with his story on "Travails of Awaiting Trial Inmates in Anambra Prisons"; while the 2nd runner up, Uche Ndeke of Radio Nigeria clinched the coveted 3rd place with his work on, "Unreported Rape Cases in Anambra State".
Speaking during the ceremony, the benefactor and first professor of Mass Communications in Nigeria, Chinyere Okunna, said she instituted the award to promote professionalism and ethical practice of journalism among journalists.
According to her, no matter how skillful a journalist is, if he/she is not ethical in reportage, the reports will be questionable. She, therefore, charged journalists to ensure they maintain balance, credibility and other ethical demands of the profession.
To save the society from misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and unverified reports, the benefactor encouraged media practitioners to be of good conduct and to eschew putting the profession in the bad light.
In a remark, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra state council, Sir Emmanuel Ifesinachi, said the winners distinguished themselves in journalism practice in the state; while urging other journalists to keep maintaining ethics and professionalism in their reports. He thanked the benefactor, Prof.Okunna for instituting the award for outstanding journalists, saying that it would help journalists in the state to improve in their conducts and reportage.
Earlier, the chairman of the 3-man panel of judges and Editor-in-Chief of National Lights Newspaper, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, while congratulating the winners, noted that the beneficiaries did thorough investigations, and encourage other journalists to borrow a leaf from such reports. He said the keenly contested prize was worth it, while eulogising the winners for eventually emerging after a rigorous process, which, according to him, too cognisant of balance, creativity, relevance, currency, among others.
Other panel members, Mr. Jude Atupulazi, Editor-in-Chief of Fides Newspaper and Dr. Henry Duru of Department of Mass Communications, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in their separate remarks, praised the benefactor, and enjoined journalists to have high standard of ethics and professionalism.
Responding on behalf of other winnners, David-Chyddy Eleke, dedicated the award to his wife and children, who, he said, have been supportive. He said that it was an honour and privilege to practice journalism, while stating that it was a bonus to be rewarded in what he cherished doing. Eleke said he was able to achieve the feat through hard work and prayers, even as he extolled the benefactors.
Among others, the highpoints of the event include giving the NUJ Man of the Year award to Dr. Godwin Maduka, who is also the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant for 2021 Anambra Governorship election,