Tuesday, October 29, 2019
With the Newcomer of the Year – Hans Verploeg Award, we recognise talented new journalists. On October 31st we’ll present the award for the fourth time. High time to catch up with former winners and ask how their careers have progressed since bagging the coveted award.

‘Fisayo Soyombo, Nigeria, 2016

“Winning the Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg award in 2016 gave me more visibility and won me the respect of people back home. Three years after, it is still the biggest award I’ve won – but I’m hoping that changes soon.

“With the prize money, I embarked on an undercover investigation into the deaths of children and disappearance of foodstuffs at camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Borno State. The story prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to admit “mistakes and wrongdoings in the handling of IDP affairs”, and promise reforms. It also won the online category of the 2017 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.

“My proudest moment since then is the release of my latest investigation. I spent two weeks in detention — five days in a police cell and eight as an inmate in Ikoyi Prison, in Lagos — to track corruption in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.”

Marina Ansiforova, Ukraine, 2017

“The Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg Award was the first nomination in my journalistic career. It showed me that I can make real changes in my country [Ukraine]. I can cover how reforms are made and show people how they work. Of course, the main goal of my work is to discuss problems in my country and trying to make the government solve them. Getting this award showed me that I’m moving in the right direction.

“I used the prize money to create a blog about problems with the Ukrainian judiciary system. It explains how judicial reforms work. One year ago, we published an article about meetings between the Ukrainian judge Artur Yemelyanov and the ex-director of a public company, Ruslan Zhurylo. This judge has now tendered his resignation.”

Kemi Busari, Nigeria, 2018

“[Winning the Newcomer of the Year – Hans Verploeg Award] is an unusual kind of validation. It’s a voice telling you that you’re on the right path and you can do more. After winning the award, I gained more confidence and devoted more time to reporting impact-oriented, mostly neglected issues in Nigeria.

“I'm currently studying for a Masters in Communication Studies in Belgium. The prize money constituted a partial scholarship. I hope to be a better journalist after the programme. I have decided to do academic research on the influence of media laws on Nigerian journalists. These journalists every day watch their colleagues being attacked, often by the government apparatus. My research aims to assess to what extent laws such as the cybercrime act influence journalists’ penchant for fairness, objectivity, balance, accuracy and sometimes self-censorship for fear of arrest.”

We will present the Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg Award for the fourth time on 31 October at Free Press Live. Meet our extraordinary nominees here. Want to join us at the event? There are still a few seats available, so book now.