Journalism Awards for Excellence tonight

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The 19th edition of the Journalism Awards for Excellence program will culminate with the annual ‘Awards Night’ on Tuesday, 31 July at the Empire Ballroom of the Mount Lavinia Hotel, the host hotel for the gala event.

This year there were 259 applications for 16 categories from 37 daily and weekly newspapers in the three language streams – Sinhala, Tamil and English. Applications were also received from online news websites that published a newspaper for the ‘Best Designed News Website,’ said Sukumar Rockwood, Convener Journalism Awards for Excellence 2017.

On a suggestion from the Panel of Judges (Print Media), a new category was introduced; ‘Best Health Care and Medical Report of the Year.’

The event which was launched in 1999 by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka and is now organised by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka in partnership with the Sri Lanka Press Institute, is the biggest media awards program in the country. 

The aim of the program is to recognise professionalism in the print media of Sri Lanka and reward excellence over a particular year. It also honours those who have served the journalistic profession for more than 40 years with Lifetime Achievement Awards. A Scholarship is offered by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Foundation for the ‘Denzil Peiris Young Reporter of the Year’ to follow a Diploma Course in the prestigious MASCOM Institute in Kottayam, India, Rockwood said. 

The five recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2017 are:

A.S. Fernando

Cyril Wimalasurendra

Merrill Perera

Sinniah Kanesan 

A.L.M. Saleem

The Editors’ Guild also presents two special awards by its own nomination at the event; the D.R. Wijewardene Award for Recognition by Peers and the Public and the Sepala Gunasena Award for Defending Press Freedom in Sri Lanka.

Recipients of the Life Time Achievement Award:

A.S. Fernando

Fernando joined the Daily News Editorial in October 1980 as translator (Sinhala-to-English). Before he came to Daily News, he was a senior officer in the Government Health Clerical Service. He became staff reporter and covered the health round and political opposition. He was promoted News Editor in April 1990. He joined the Daily Mirror newspaper as Deputy Editor and later joined the The Nation and became its Consultant Editor until his retirement in July 2012. 

He has also written several columns to name a few: Political satire column titled ‘Holmangedara Lodge’ in the Daily Mirror under the pen-name ‘Will O’ the Wisp,’ a political satire column titled ‘Srinath Varma’s consultancy parlour’ to the Daily Mirror under the pen-name ‘Snooper,’ a regular column titled ‘Mirror Reflections’ to the Daily Mirror under the pen-name ‘Aesop,’ a regular feature titled ‘Our world’ to the Little Enquirer of the Daily Mirror under the pen-name ‘Seeya’, a regular political column titled ‘Random Peeks at Politics’ to the The Nation under the pen-name ‘Bystander’ and a regular political column titled ‘Mid-week Politics’ to The Nation online daily edition under the pen-name ‘Asanga’. In his retirement he continues to function as a freelance writer.

Cyril Wimalasurendre

Cyril Wimalasurendre has spent the greater part of his life as a journalist starting in the 1950s spanning over 60 years. He commenced his career in journalism at Lake House. Cyril was first an English language teacher before giving up the teaching profession to embrace journalism. He started working first at Lake House and while being an Area Manager, wrote articles for Lake House newspapers. He later joined the Upali Newspapers almost from its inception. He is fluent in writing in both Sinhala and English languages. 

Merrill Perera

Merrill Perera is a senior Editor with 50 years of experience not only in writing and sub editing but also in the area of lay-out and designing of newspaper pages with the help of his artistic skills. “The contribution of these skills has earned him recognition and is considered to be one of the leading lay-out and design-men in the country,” said Edmund Ranasinghe in his introduction to Merrill’s book ‘Armour Street: Here I Come’. Merrill’s career has taken him through three newspaper groups – Lake House, Sun Group and Upali Group. During his days with the Divaina newspaper, his reports from the Middle East after the Gulf War kept loved-ones at home abreast of the changing situation in the Middle East. His amiable and friendly life style earned superiors such as Gamii Weerakoon, to have a good word for him. Looking back he said it all started in 1965, when Ranjit Wijewardene was the Chairman of Lake House. 

Sinniah Kanesan 

Sinniah Kanesan has more than 40 years’ experience as a journalist in various positions. A student of Uva College, Badulla he joined the journalistic profession in 1977, as a Regional Correspondent for Ratnapura, while working for the Davasa Group’s Tamil language newspaper Thinapathi-Chinthamani. In 1987, he was appointed Office Correspondent for the same newspaper. In 1989, he joined Lake House as Regional News Editor and in additional to his responsibilities covered parliamentary affairs. In 2007, he joined the Sudar Oli newspaper as News Editor. In 2012, he joined the Virakesari weekly newspaper Editorial as a freelance journalist and continues to work for the same newspaper. 

A.L.M. Saleem

Kalabooshana A.L.M. Saleem of Nintavur has been a full time regional correspondent since 1966 for the Virakesari newspaper. Many years ago, he wrote for Thinapathy and Sinthamany newspapers. He is Senior Adviser for the Ampara District Media Association and the Divisional Cultural Council of Nintavur, in addition, he is Vice President, Arts and Cultural Council and member of the Mediation Board. He also writes under the pseudonym of “Anarkali “and Avathani.” He was awarded the title “Kalabooshana” in 2008, the Eastern Province Chief Minister’s Award, “Viththagar” in 2010. He has also received many Awards for his work in the media, such as; “Sahithiyasuri,” by the Digamadulla Buddhist Sinhala Association, “Maruthamunai” by the Islamic Tamil Literary Conference and “Ponvila Kanum Saleem” by the Ampara Journalist Association.