Female journos take top honours for Russell Hunter Awards


TWO female journalists were announced the winners of the Russell Hunter Awards for Young Journalist of 2020-2021.
Lyanne Togiba, from the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was the winner and runner-up was Julie Badui Owa, from EMTV.
The judges said that Togiba, who received K2,500, broke a series of outstanding stories through her persistence and reporting skills, in the face of considerable challenges, including from relevant authorities.
These included a suite of ground-breaking Coronavirus (Covid-19) stories – PNG students stranded in Wuhan when the pandemic first emerged, the first (imported) Covid-19 case in PNG, an interview with the first Papua New Guinea to be identified with the Covid-19, the risk of Port Moresby General Hospital collapsing under Covid-19 pressures, funding irregularities in the Government’s Covid-19 response.
Togiba also broke the story of a massive proposed sand mining operation in Madang by Niugini Sands Ltd, a Singaporean registered company with Chinese interests, which was strongly opposed by Sumkar residents on environmental and other grounds.
The company eventually halted the project, citing such public debate.
The judges said that Owa, who received K1,250, had produced excellent reports from Lae revealing business scandals and government failures, including a Chinese-owned sausage factory ordered closed due to many environmental and health issues and the lack of approvals, but reopened with the alleged involvement of bribes before being ordered shut again; the lack of supplies at Angau Hospital, with patients told to buy their own dressings and medicines and to treat themselves; the shortfalls in committed government funding for Lae Secondary School and Gantom Primary School, in each case totalling hundreds of thousands of kina; and, National Housing Commission evictions, with a Chinese-owned company acquiring the vacated property.
The judges, coordinated by Divine Word University communication arts department lecturer Patrick Matbob, said: “It is especially significant that we should announce these awards on Independence Day.
“The outstanding work of these two brave and smart young PNG journalists results from their independence of inquiry and of judgment.
“We commend the support of their editorial managers who help provide the frameworks.”