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Gambian Outlet Inspired by GPU Training Wins Prestigious ‘Africa Prize for Investigative Journalism’

Apr 27, 2023

Mustapha K Darboe wins PAJI Prize

Gambian investigative journalism outlet, Malagen, has won the African Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI) 2023.

Malagen, which was established in 2020 following a series of investigative journalism training conducted by the Gambia Press Union (GPU), in which three of its current staff benefitted, received the award at a ceremony held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar on Wednesday, April 26.

This year being the second edition, the PAJI awards is co-organised by Franco-African platform of journalists Media & Democracy (M&D) and Center for the Study of Information Science and Technology (CESTI).

The competition has three levels with Gold being the highest, followed by Silver and Bronze for each of the categories: online, radio, TV, and print.

Malagen’s Mustapha K. Darboe, who is the back-to-back winner of the Best Journalist Award in The Gambia, conferred on him by the GPU, walked away with the Gold Prize for the online category.

The story that has won the prestigious award for Malagen is ‘profiting from rebellion: inside blood timber trafickers network in Gambia’, a cross-border investigative reporting published in April last year.

“Since 2017, the Gambian media has grown rapidly in terms of quality, depth and diversity, with the once dreaded field of investigative reporting slowly but surely becoming commonplace,” GPU Secretary General, Modou S. Joof, said.

“Malagen and Mustapha K. Darboe winning big, this prestigious investigative journalism prize on the African stage, will further reinforce investigative journalism practice in The Gambia and it is expected to inspire other media houses and journalists to pursue more probing and impactful stories,” Joof said.

In a statement Wednesday, Malagen said the story exposes how timber traffickers and politically connected Gambian business people connive with authorities in the government to engage in illicit trade in rosewood, or ‘blood timber’, a vital source of revenue for rebels in the conflict-ridden Casamance region of Senegal.

The impact was significant as the UN treaty body responsible for the protection of endangered plants and animals, CITES, had in June last year (two months after our publication) announced a suspension of Gambia’s licence for commercial trade in rosewood, it said.

Upon receiving the award, Mustapha K. Darboe, who specialised in investigative reporting after receiving training on investigative journalism conducted by the GPU in 2018 and 2019, said:

“This is a massive victory for journalism in the Gambia, and our efforts at Malagen to promote democracy and development through accountability and public interest journalism. I dedicate this to our hardworking team.”

The PAJI award recognises best investigative stories in 3 categories: print, online and television. Malagen won the best online investigative journalism award.

The story was selected by an international jury composed overwhelmingly of African journalists.

According to the organisers, the intent of the award is to “encourage investigative journalism in Africa and to highlight the quality work carried out by a large number of African media professionals”.

 

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