Official launch of SLAJ Annual Media Awards for 2024 - Remarks by UNDP Sierra Leone Resident Representative Fredrick Ampiah

As prepared for delivery

March 3, 2024

Resident Representative of UNDP Sierra Leone, Mr. Fredrick Ampiah at the SLAJ Awards

UNDP Sierra Leone /Desmonda Aminita Cole

Speech delivered for the official launch of SLAJ Annual Media Awards 2024 by the Resident Representative of UNDP Sierra Leone, Mr. Fredrick Ampiah

Distinguished guests Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you tonight, as we gather to celebrate the remarkable talent, dedication, and unwavering commitment of journalists in Sierra Leone. 

As demonstrated repeatedly, journalists play a pivotal role in shaping our society, amplifying the voices of the marginalized, holding the powerful to account, and shedding light on critical issues that demand our attention. “Your work is not just a profession; it is a vocation,” 

It is a vocation because,

  •  It is a vital pillar of democracy, a beacon of truth in a world often clouded by misinformation and disinformation.

  • Through your relentless pursuit of truth, you have the power to inspire change, to spark dialogue, and to drive progress. 

  • You bring light to the darkest corners, you give voice to the voiceless, and you challenge us to confront the realities of our world with courage and conviction.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations Development Programme recognizes the crucial role that journalists play in advancing sustainable development, promoting human rights, and fostering inclusive societies. Your storytelling has the power to uplift communities, to bridge divides, and to ignite a sense of unity that transcends borders and differences.

As we gather tonight to honor your exceptional work, let us reaffirm our commitment to press freedom, to upholding the highest standards of journalistic integrity, and to protecting the invaluable role of the media in our society.

To all the journalists present here tonight, I commend you for your dedication, your courage, and your unyielding passion for truth. Your work inspires us, challenges us, and reminds us of the transformative power of storytelling. May you continue to shine a light in the darkness, to speak truth to power, and to uphold the noble principles of journalism as guardians of democracy.

I want to congratulate all the nominees and winners of the Sierra Leone Journalists Awards. Your talent, commitment, and resilience are beacons of hope in an ever-changing world. Thank you for your invaluable contributions, and may your work continue to illuminate the path towards a brighter, more just future for all. 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Permit me to announce that as a testament to UNDP’s commitment to advancing the professional ethics and contribution of journalist to the SDG’s, starting this 2024, UNDP is committed to supporting SLAJ to initiate and institute a coveted prize for “SLAJ Journalist of the Year Award” to be part of the annual media excellence awards.

The SLAJ Journalist of the Year Award will honor an exceptional journalist who has shown courage, integrity, and professionalism in covering critical issues that impacts the public interest positively and contributes significantly to the achievements of the SDGs. 

The winner will be selected by an independent  SLAJ Awards Committee made up of Sierra Leonean Media luminaries.-The coveted SLAJ Journalist of the Year Award  winner among others will receive in addition to the prize package an internship opportunity with the communications team  in UNDP’s Regional Bureau of Africa  Regional Hub for West and Central Africa or at our UNDP Headquarters.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my singular honor to officially launch the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Annual Media Awards 2024 and to wish all journalists the best of luck.

Thank you for your kind attention.