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STRENGTHENING THE DAME IDEA
By Lanre Idowu, CEO, Diamond Publications and DAME Trustee
...Read more

STRENGTHENING THE DAME IDEA
By Lanre Idowu, CEO, Diamond Publications and DAME Trustee
...Read more





 
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We wish to stress that the awards are a means to an end and not ends in themselves. Stating that through the awards 'there is non-representation of the best in the profession again presupposes that there is already a group of the best in journalism somewhere. If there were such a group then we would be glad to have them nominated for future DAME awards for the normal screening.

Two, your report states that the mode of participation discriminates against non-Lagos journalists: 'a critical look at the winners shows a preponderance of Lagos journalists.' This is far from the truth as there's nowhere in the DAME announcements published in newspapers and magazines with national spread that restricted entries to Lagos journalists. It is surprising that the reporter preferred to look at the winners to determine geographical representation of the awards rather than the most intelligible indicator--the entries.

If the reporter had visited DAME's secretariat, he would have been shown entries from such newspapers as The Path (Sokoto), Sunray (Port Harcourt), New Nigerian (Kaduna) and radio stations such as Plateau Radio (Jos). But then, if there's a "predominance of Lagos journalists," isn't Lagos where you have the largest concentration of the Nigerian press? There is need to correct the impression that DAME is another celebration of the cankerworm called Federal character. It is not and will never be. For the second DAME, Joe Olajuwon of Citizen Kaduna won the sports reporting category. The work was entered by Citizen magazine on his behalf—a belief in the reporter's worth.

"Three: Arguing against the efficacy of journalists sending their work, the report calls for a situation where the judges monitor reports for the year to determine which is the best. The report then quotes one university undergraduate referring to Pulitzer thus: "they (Pulitzer) monitor and come up with the acceptable first among equals…" If the reporter had gone into the morgue, he would have found out that Pulitzer, endowed on August 10, 1903, is organised through nominations. The process allows anybody to nominate a journalist working in an American newspaper for any journalism award. The entries—exhibits—of the nominated candidates' works—are catalogued, then distributed to members of the jury drawn mostly from the Columbia School of Journalism founded by Joseph Pulitzer to examine them.

"They pass their report short listing finalists to the Pulitzer Board, which approves or rejects by voting. The Board then sends its winners' list to the Columbia University to announce. It would have been enlightening if the report looked into reasons which made the Pulitzer Board retain this mode all through these years although it had a school which it could fall back on to do what idealistic thinkers called a year-round monitoring process. Today there are 271 awards for journalism in the United States obtained through the same process.

"For us at DAME, there are two points, One: the awards were established to promote a humanistic value-excellence. For that value to be appreciated, members of the society must take active part in building, nurturing and preserving the value of excellence. The decision of people to send their entries and of others to send entries of their favoured candidates concretely manifests this commitment and ensures that this value is nourished by people who hold it dear.

"Two: Even with the best of resources, it is impracticable to conduct a monitoring process as advocated. Take radio and television. The monitoring team will have a hard task recording all the radio and television broadcasts throughout this country every day. Even without the coming of private electronic bodies, that process is simply gargantuan. And in the print, it would require collecting all editions of each day. Resources for the logistics, any critic will admit, are too colossal to begin to cost.

"And we believe that grandiose ideas, which are visibly unrealistic, do not have to be celebrated in the press all in the mischievous bid to show that awards are not being done very well. We would like DAME to be criticised on its activities and not be made to pay for the sins of any other awards scheme."

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