Michael J. Ssali, 59, Daily Monitor's veteran upcountry news and occasional business reporter on Saturday became the IBJ of 2007 in Kampala, seizing the plaque from his youthful associate Elias Biryabarema. Ssali won the award in a contest with 107 fellow Ugandan journalists.
Ssali started writing at Daily Nation in 1981 said the feature that he wrote about the most influential farmer in Masaka district won him the award.
His prize includes a fully paid trip to South Africa for the up-coming Iway Africa conference and a visit to the MTN headquarters, airtime worth UGX200,000 and spending money for his trip.
Commenting on Ssali's award, Biryabarema who read the winners piece said: “He deserved the award, I read his story and it had good content, was well written and researched. And for his experience, the old man really deserves the award”.
Other winners included David Mugabi (Financial Journalist of the Year), Daily Monitor's Dorothy Nakaweesi (Female Journalist), Uganda Broadcasting Corporation's Irene Birungi (SME Journalist of the Year), Business Week's Philip Nabyama (ICT Journalist of the Year) and New Vision's Gerald Tenywa (Environmental Journalist of the Year).
The companies they write about were also recognised. MTN was the company of 2007 and most socially responsible, while Celtel Uganda was runner-up. For bringing to Ugandans an affordable Pay TV service, Gateway Television (GTV), was voted and rewarded for the product of the Year.
Winning entries were chosen on factors such as their originality, precision, and relevance. The head of the judging panel, Jim Mugunga, said that the panel was looking not at numbers but at quality.
“We would like to encourage media owners and editors to encourage the up-country journalists to participate in business journalism. This will help grow both our economy and business journalism” Mugunga added.
Main sponsors of the awards are MTN, Uganda, Telecom, Stanbic Bank, ICT firm Echo Solutions and Crane Bank, among others.