Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson Hellen Mwale says it has reduced the number of media award categories from 40 to 6 to stiffen the competition.

And MISA says it will not take instructions from media houses and government officials to influence the decision made adding that there will now be an independent governance structure responsible for selecting winners.

Meanwhile MISA has renamed some awards by adding new terms and making changes to the calendar

Speaking when he launched the 2019 MISA Media awards, MISA board treasurer Jetty Lungu, who spoke on behalf of the Chairperson, said the changes came as a result of the first ever written media award policy which MISA had produced which would be a guide to show how awards would be conducted.

“As a result of this media awards policy, the number of media awards has been reduced to only six that is, those purely sponsored by MISA, while organizations are at liberty to sponsor any other awards as shall be prescribed provided that such will meet the conditions stipulated in the new media awards policy, the changes particularly in the reduction have been made to improve competitiveness, quality and the value of the awards a paradigm shift from an apparent quantity that has been characteristic of Misa awards in the recent past, more importantly to the changes are meant to ensure that journalists or prospective entrants undertake quality work and input to avoid rushed-in submissions merely driven by monetary motive,” Mwale said.

Mwale said there would be a paper trail of the whole process in case there was a need for an audit into the selection of winners.

“We want to ensure that MISA is independent, MISA will not be taking instructions from any media houses or whether its someone from government etc, to influence the decision that is made so that is why we have put in a governance structure which is independent to ensure that people don’t complain of biasses or any form of undue process in selecting winners, we also recognize that sometimes some organizations will have a training program with MISA and we want to make sure that it will not in any anyway influence the selection process if the entries and we will look at that as an independent process because we don’t want to discriminate against anyone who participate in these awards,” she said.

“Misa Zambia has further renamed some awards by additional terms such as platinum awards, which is the media freedom awards and the other category of Golden awards which has Golden awards television, Golden awards radio, golden award community radio, golden awards print and golden award online all these being the best awards in their respective categories. May I also mention that from now on, Misa Zambia will officially launch the ‘call for entries’ 90 days before the awards gala,”.

She said award entries would be open from the 12th of July and close on the 28th of August 2019.

“The changes to the calendar are also in line with some important united nations calendar events in September such as the International day of democracy on 15th September and the access to Information (ATI) day on the 28th of September, both of which resonate well with the principles and objectives of MISA. Consequently the calendar from the media awards ceremony have also been moved from April to a Friday between 15th and 28th September every year, therefore this year the awards gala will be held on 27th September 2019.Entries for this year’s awards gala are therefore open effective the 12th July 2019 and shall close on 28th August 2019. In line with the new media wards policy entries for the subsequent awards gala stand open a day after the media awards event for the preceding year,” said Mwale.