- Freelance journalist, Vivian Baah, of the League of Environmental Journalists, is the grand prize winner of the "Biodiversity Reporting Award 2001," in Ghana. Her article "Guess What's Cooking for Dinner," reports on the increasing consumption of marine turtles and was published as a three-part series in The Evening News
. The other awardees will be announced on September 12 in a ceremony to be held at the British Council. The contest is an initiative of Conservation International (CI), in collaboration with the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
This is the first edition of the award in Ghana, and eight journalists submitted a total of 20 articles covering biodiversity issues. Ms. Baah will be invited to attend the Ninth World Congress of Environmental Journalists, in Lage-Hoerste, Germany, from September 29 through October 4, 2001. Second and third-prize winners of the contest will receive a cash award of ¢2,000,000 and ¢1,000,000, respectively. All of the journalists honored in the ceremony will be awarded with a two-year membership to IFEJ, as well as a professional resource kit from ICFJ.
The "Biodiversity Reporting Award" was launched in 1999, to promote better coverage of environmental news. The contest was created to recognize the work of journalists covering biodiversity issues, to stimulate their interest in covering such issues, and to develop their reporting skills.
"We are proud to have Ghana as the first African country to be added to the contest. The variety of issues covered by the articles submitted to the contest clearly demonstrates the richness of the biodiversity in the country and how much needs to be done in order to protect it," says Haroldo Castro, CI's Vice President for International Communications and General Director of the award.
Style, creativity, the number and variety of sources, and the ability to translate scientific jargon were some of the criteria used to judge the articles. A five-member panel composed by veteran environmental journalists and professionals from the academic world rated the entries. The jury members were: Rob Taylor, Director of Environmental Programs for ICFJ; Julie Titone, former Ford Environmental Fellow in Ghana and longtime reporter for the Spokane Spokesman-Review
; Mary Hager, former Heinz Environmental Fellow in Malaysia and former science and environmental writer for Newsweek
magazine; Bill Allen, former Ford Environmental Fellow in Nicaragua and St. Louis Post-Dispatch
reporter, and Emeritus Professor Ebenezer Laing, of the Botany Department of the University of Ghana.
This year, the contest was held in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Guyana, besides Ghana. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Virginia W. Cabot Foundation supported the "Biodiversity Reporting Award 2001".