May 13, 2009, 5:54 AM
The first edition of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) Excellence Award 2008, hosted by the Gambia Press Union, was held last Thursday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The awards were presented to the three best journalists print, radio, and TV in the sub region.
The award for the best print press went to Mr. A. Houessou from the Republic of Benin, who presented an article on public education in Benin. The award for the best radio report went to Saidou Diakite from Mali, while the award for the best television report was not given due to the fact that none of the contestants applied for it.
Deyda Hydara, the late co-proprietor and managing editor of The Point Newspaper was given a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.
Deyda Hydara, who was a founder member and first treasurer of WAJA, is the first recipient of this prestigious award.
The award, a commendation of Deyda's bravery, beliefs and unwavering pursuance of the truth and the cardinal principles of his profession- journalism, is symbolic of the struggle for press freedom and freedom of expression across Africa.
Dr. Henry Carrol, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary at the Department of State for Justice, stood in for the Vice President and Secretary of State for Women's Affairs Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy.
In her speech, she said the government of The Gambia through the Department of State for Communications took note of the important role the media play in nurturing peace, security and stability in the country.
This, she added, has made government encourage and promote establishment of media houses under the cardinal principle of responsible, factual and balanced reporting. "We are pleased that the relationship of the media and the state has improved immensely for the better and press freedom has been upheld according to international best practices," he said.
Vice President Njie-Saidy however noted that in the exercise of human rights and individual rights, freedom of speech is essential. But this has to go with high standards of responsibility, respect and tactfulness, she added. "In exercising our freedom of speech and expression of one's right, we need to be always our actions do not encroach or trample on another person's," she said.