CATEGORIES

The media landscape is changing at a rapid rate. While presentation on different media platforms used to be important not too long ago, nowadays in media content is king, irrespective of the platform on which it is featured. Most journalists work across platforms and it is not unusual for someone considered to be a print journalist to also produce videos, audio and online content.

A major competition such as the Vodacom Journalist of the Year needs to move with the times. As such, our categories were completely revamped last year in keeping with the ongoing changes in the industry. Our categories are now content-driven as opposed to platform-driven. The winners of the different categories will be rewarded irrespective of the media platform on which their stories were first published.

In most categories, VJOY seeks to identify well-informed, tenaciously researched and credibly presented in-depth reporting that makes a difference and changes South African society for the better.

Investigate

Investigative Journalism is a key driver in any democratic society. Through the efforts of investigative journalists, ordinary people are informed of the excesses of those with power and influence. This is the same irrespective of whoever is in power. If it were not for investigative journalists, South Africans would never have known the extent of state capture and this phenomenon would never have been arrested and addressed with the urgency it is receiving in many parts of society. Investigative journalism has the potential to bring down presidents and CEOs of major companies, but it can also bring to light wrongdoing in other sectors of society. We seek to honour those who are leading the pack in terms of investigative journalism, irrespective of the medium in which it is being pursued. In this category, we do not look at whether a publication broke a story, but how they continued to keep it in the public eye through their persistent investigations.

Opinion

In a country as diverse as South Africa, it is not unusual to experience a multitude of different opinions on any one issue. South Africans are extremely opinionated and consume media as much for refreshing opinion writing as for news and investigations. Social media has developed a new breed of social and political commentators, not always based on relevant facts or information. In this category, the judges will seek to reward those who present opinion in the most refreshing and innovative manner, based on proper research, whether this is through columns, op-ed pieces or editorial cartoons. Official newspaper editorials are excluded from this category because they represent the official opinion of the publication and not an individual.

Feature Lifestyle

Good writing is an art that can mean the difference between survival and damnation for media organisations. Features is a broad category that includes news features, profiles and lifestyle articles that go beyond reporting but introduce elements of innovative writing, without impacting on the veracity of the reporting. The judges will seek to reward eloquent turns of phrase, descriptive writing and the ability to bring subjects to life, irrespective of its news values. In this category, more than any other, we reward good writing and command of language.

Sport

At its best, sport unifies and inspires the nation – but it can also bring division, disaster and dissent. The many moods of our people can be reflected in sports journalism as it celebrates the glory and elegance of great sporting achievements, analyses, questions or even mourns great sporting heroes. The judges are looking for eloquent and lucid, in-depth sports journalism, that goes beyond reporting on results and numbers, but brings unusual and innovative perspectives. Your winning entry could be hard news, investigative or a feature, as long as it is based on sport.

Financial Economics

Financial and Economics journalism in South Africa has often been underrated, but it is an area of journalism that is important to understand in our complicated country. Corruption has become pandemic in politics in South Africa, but the corporate world is not exempt from this vile practice. ‘Backhanders’, profiteering and dodgy deals are among the dubious business practices that have become distressingly familiar to many South Africans. As our nation struggles to deal with the spectre of corruption and the regular buffeting from national, regional and international financial pressures, financial and economic journalists in all media can help ensure that both businesses and citizens are well informed, enabling them to make better choices to enhance their present and their future. The judges are looking for in-depth features and investigations which combine excellent storytelling with illuminating insights.

Politics

South Africans are obsessed with politics. We try to hold our politicians to account for their actions and we follow their activities almost slavishly. Politics, whether it is at national, provincial or local level, impact on the lives of South Africans. But politics has always played a dominant role in our society, because of our history. The judges will be looking to reward the stories about politics that are well-reported and made a difference to society, either by leading to prosecution of offenders, the resignation of a perpetrator, changes in legislation or the establishment of a commission of inquiry, among others. The winning entry could be a hard news piece, an investigation or a feature.

CSI Sustainability

The critical issues of living and working sustainably are particularly a matter of concern in South Africa where many social, economic and political challenges remain unresolved. Many companies are realising that they cannot operate in a vacuum but need to find ways of empowering communities to help solve the problems in society. The judges are looking for in-depth stories on any South African media platform that report evocatively and with insight on sustainable solutions for South Africa’s future, such as an ingeniously applied old solution to a new environmental problem, a scientific breakthrough on climate change, or a pioneering corporate social responsibility programme or citizens’ initiative and unmask those who abuse South Africans’ constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Live Reporting Breaking

The manner in which news is broken or reported live has changed in an era of 24-hour television news channels, internet television and radio shows, and social media. People no longer look to traditional media as a source of breaking news. The judges will be looking to reward journalists who are first – and correct – with breaking news, but also with live reporting, whether this is on television, radio or on social media platforms. We will seek to reward those who break important news stories despite obstacles being thrown in their way, such as a lack of resources or what may appear to be unrealistic deadlines.

Young Journalist

The successor to the popular demand Editor’s Choice category, emphasises VJOY’s commitment to furthering the career of one dynamic young journalist in South Africa. At stake, is the chance of a lifetime for the lucky Young Journalist winner to accelerate his or her professional and personal development through an all-expenses paid trip to follow cutting-edge training overseas, both at the renowned Thomson Foundation and in a newsroom context. This award recognises the efforts of the rising stars in newsrooms across the regions. Entrants must have worked in journalism for three years or less and already be demonstrating great future potential as a journalist. Entrants must submit a body of outstanding work (not more than three stories, including proof of publication/broadcast) together with a strong motivation showing commitment to the vocation of news well above the norm – this motivation is a critical component of the judging process. All shortlisted entrants will be entered in a further round where they will, in an interview, outline their achievements and their aspirations to the judging panel. Regional winners will automatically become finalists for the national Young Journalist award and the career-enhancing prize.

Data Journalism

In a world driven by information, often misinformation, the role of data journalism becomes immense. It can provide the context and proper information needed to make sense of often confusing stories by presenting evidence that cannot be disputed. The judges will be looking to reward journalists who approach data journalism with innovation and energy, but also those who use this form of journalism to help shed light on serious and complicated issues in society.

Multi Platform

Well-written, balanced, insightful and enterprising – the best entries for the multi-platform category reflect all these values of good journalism. But to excel in this category, journalists must combine reporting flair with the ability to provide material that allows for best, creative use of the multiple platforms and elastic space of online media. This means ensuring elements such as the great graphics and visuals, well-curated links and interactive opportunities of online publishing are integral to their storytelling. Journalists are not required to showcase their own online technical ability but rather to demonstrate that they understand how to combine their enterprising reporting with the publishing possibilities available to them within the online and/or digital medium.

Photography

Telling a vital story with a single picture or series of pictures, capturing a specific moment in time that will enlighten, enrich, even enrage the audience, are some of the ways in which the valuable and sometimes life-threatening work of South African photographers illuminates our country’s past, present and future. Entries allow you to enter a single photograph or a photographic essay published on any or all platforms of South African media. The judges are looking for the South African pictures that really are worth a thousand words.

Lifetime Achiever

The Lifetime Achiever is decided by the judges, based on their assessment of someone who has made an invaluable contribution to the industry over many years. This is the only category where nominations are not actively sought from others in the industry.