Marian Amaria Bangura, a Sierra Leonean fellow of MFWA’s Next Generation Investigative Journalism (NGIJ) Fellowship, has made history as the first-ever recipient of the Vickie Remoe Prize for News Writing.
Marian’s news analysis report titled ‘What happened to the promises, Mr. President?’ was adjudged the best among four stories which were shortlisted for the award in Sierra Leone. The report was published in November 2022 by The Fourth Estate, an accountability journalism project of the MFWA, when the journalist was receiving training and mentorship under the 2022 NGIJ fellowship programme which was funded by the US Embassy Ghana and Dutch Foreign Ministry (through the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands).
“Winning this award has made it clear to me that I can only be great as a journalist when I put my thoughts together to do exceptional stories as the NGIJ fellowship programme by the Media Foundation for West Africa taught me in 2022,” Marian said.
“This also indicates that people are starting to recognize and appreciate investigative journalism, and by recognizing the work I do means I am doing great,” she added.
For her prize, Marian took home 15,000 leones ($750) cash. She is also to benefit from a 6-month mentorship course.
The Vickie Remoe Prize for Journalism and New Media 2023 had received a total of 39 applications, out of which 13 were shortlisted as the best submissions in four categories – The Vickie Remoe Prize for News Writing, The Vickie Remoe Prize for Photography, Vickie Remoe Prize for Film and the Vickie Remoe Prize for New Media.
The shortlisted submissions were then evaluated by a Panel of Sierra Leonean media professionals which had excellence, originality, quality research and creativity as the yardstick.
Ms Bangura’s news analysis report that won the award, “What happened to the promises Mr. President?”, compared the extravagant promises of the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, with the current living conditions of citizens. The report analysed trend changes in the cost of living, GDP growth, and Sierra Leone’s debt stock among other macroeconomic indicators, pointing out the mismanagement and failure of the government to fulfil its promises.
“I am thankful to the MFWA for the training and mentorship I received under the 2022 NGIJ Fellowship. I acquired a lot of skills from the fellowship,” Ms Bangura said.
The Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship (NGIJ) is a training and mentorship programme that seeks to empower young journalists with investigative journalism skills. The objective is to build a pool of next-generation investigative journalists who will contribute to improving lives and promoting good governance through journalism excellence. The NGIJ programme builds the capacity of early-career journalists in the West Africa region to be able to conduct critical, high-quality, fact-based and in-depth reporting.
Every year, the Fellows are recruited through a competitive process of selection including aptitude tests and interviews. Under the programme, the selected journalists are hosted in Ghana for a five-month comprehensive training. The training includes a mentorship programme with Fact-Check Ghana and The Fourth Estate, both being MFWA’s public interest and accountability journalism projects made up of seasoned journalists.