The Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling, a collaboration between the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), ONE, and the Elliott family, honors an up-and-coming journalist in Africa who strives to strengthen people's voices and improve their well-being.
The Award was established in honor of Michael Elliott, an outstanding editor, philanthropist and former ICFJ director, whose life was a testament to the power of storytelling to bear witness to and improve the human condition. Elliott served as a distinguished editor at The Economist, Newsweek and Time before becoming CEO of ONE. In 2016, he had spoken of his dream to establish an award that would bring together his belief in great journalism with his commitment to progress in Africa.
The inaugural award winner, Mercy Juma, a Kenyan broadcast journalist, was selected from among 354 applicants. Her reporting brings to life the stories of often-voiceless Kenyans who face difficult human challenges and aim to overcome them.
From the study tour, I came back home with great ideas and tips on digital storytelling.
– Mercy Juma, 2017 Michael Elliott Award Winner (Kenya)
In her award-winning story, “Teen Mums of Kwale,” she tells of primary school girls whose families make the controversial choice to let them use contraceptives even though the practice is taboo in the Muslim communities of Kenya’s Kwale County. The reason for going against tradition: Their unmarried girls need schooling, not more unplanned pregnancies, if they are ever to rise out of poverty.
About the Award
This prestigious annual award honors an emerging journalist in Africa who tells important stories through quality reporting. In a special study tour organized by ICFJ, the winner spends time in U.S. newsrooms to learn new skills and share knowledge. To take full advantage of the tour, applicants must speak English, even if they work in another language. The winner also receives a US$5,000 cash prize to pursue an in-depth reporting project.
While the application period for the 2018 award has closed, the contest will accept entries for the 2019 contest later this year.
- The contest is open to English-speaking journalists working in Africa for print, broadcast and online news media. Applicants must have no more than 10 years of journalism experience.
- Applicants must submit one published story that reflects top-notch storytelling about an important issue. The submission can be a feature story; an in-depth, investigative or explanatory piece; or a multimedia report or documentary.
- A copy of the published story or broadcast clip must be submitted in English. Works in other languages must include English translations.
A distinguished international jury selects the winner.