Nigerian journalist, Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, has been named as one of the two winners of this year’s Knight International Journalism Award.
Toyosi, who edits Sunday Punch, won for her investigative report revealing that a manufacturing plant’s fumes were seriously endangering the life of neighbours.
Mexican freelance journalist, Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab, is the other winner.
Announcing the award, which recognises outstanding news coverage that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world, the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) commended the journalists for going the extra mile to expose health dangers.
“Their coverage forced governments to take strong action to protect the public well-being,” ICFJ president, Joyce Barnathan, said.
Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation praised the winners, saying they “exemplify the intent of the award, which recognizes innovative journalists who are focused on informing people and uncovering the truth as a way to build stronger communities.”
“In a three-part series, published December 2012, Ogunseye revealed that residents in a well-to-do community in Lagos had high levels of toxins in their blood caused by pollutants from a nearby steel plant. The coverage prompted the government to shut down the plant, and to allow it to reopen only under strict new regulations,” ICFJ wrote in a statement.
“In another report, she disclosed that a nuclear power plant was about to be built in a poor neighbourhood. After her piece ran, citizens mobilized, sued the government and stopped construction.
“Her investigation into the death of a student who fell into a pit latrine resulted in a government initiative to replace the dangerous facilities. And her coverage of newborn babies dying at a top hospital in Lagos forced the hospital to buy more incubators for high-risk infants.”
Ogunseye and von Bertrab will be honoured at ICFJ’s 30th Anniversary Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10 2014.
Her three-part piece on the poisonous steel plant at Fajuyi estate, titled — The rich also cry: A tale of deaths and diseases in a heavily polluted upscale estate; The rich also cry: Killer metals in the blood; and The rich also cry: When investment is a curse — won at least six national and international media awards in 2013 alone.
A winner of 25 media awards including the health category of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2013, Ogunseye was recently shortlisted to participate in President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative in the US.