The Sunday Leader bagged seven awards at the Journalism Awards For Excellence 2009, held at the Mount Lavinia Hotel on Tuesday (27th), making it the print institution to win the most awards for its contributions to journalism in the year 2009.
First to be mentioned on the Leader’s list of accolades at the JAE is the Sepala Gunasena Award for Defending Press Freedom of Sri Lanka which was posthumously awarded to the Founding Editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga.
The K. Kailaspathy Award for Reporting Under Special Circumstances was won by the Sunday Leader, while Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema took two awards; the Investigative Journalist of the Year and a Merit for the Business and Finance Journalist of the year.
The Merit award for the Investigative Journalist of the Year meanwhile, went to Raknish Savan Wijewardene, the Upali Wijeywardene Feature Writer of the Year award under the English category to Ranee Mohamad and the Merit award for the English Columnist of the Year, to Emil Van Der Poorten.
Competition for the awards was high with leading English, Sinhala and Tamil print institutions including the likes of the Sunday Times, Daily Mirror, The Nation, Raavaya, Lakbima News, Divaina, Metro News, The Daily Virakesiri, Virakesiri Weekly and Thinakural participating.
The main award at the Ceremony, which is the Mervin De Silva Journalist of the Year Award, went to the Namini N. Wijedasa of Lakbima News.
In a surprise and unexplained move, for the very first time, the Scoop of the Year was awarded to a News Desk (i.e, the Sunday Times) and not to a news story or journalist.