‘DAME’s aspiration is not to be the biggest, but the best’
Providing a narrative on how the reward system started, he said in 1991 when a magazine called Media Review was introduced to media stakeholders, at that presentation, the promise was made that there was going to be a sister programme to be called DAME (Diamond Award for Media Excellence).
“And while Media Review will be monthly, DAME will be an annual event, but both will be complementary. Complementary in the sense that both are designed to enhance the professional capacity of journalists and media professionals, on the need to pay better attention to their craft, uphold the freedom of the media and work for the emergence of a responsible society.
“Luckily enough, the reception was good enough and we have been able to keep DAME going to the extent that we are doing the 24th edition. It has not been smooth but the nobility of the idea has kept it going. Along the way, we had some partners who worked with us in various capacities; we have some of the best professionals around, who are judges of DAME. We have sponsors who believed in the dream, but we need more because some sponsors are not able to continue. So, we are shopping for new sponsors to partner with us and keep the dream alive, because, with the support of people of goodwill, we would be able to do a lot more.”
He disclosed that over the years, the body has broadened its mandate to include conducting training and research in the area of media practice, which has led to working with reputable national and international organisations. He disclosed the willingness of the organisation to do a lot more in this area, the reason they would be reaching out to people of like minds to work with them so that the media as an institution can continue to receive the quality attention that it requires.
“It is also important for us to remind the media that it is a strong and powerful tool for nation building and those who work in it are professionals who deserve to be celebrated when they do things worthy of celebration. So the whole concept of DAME is that we are promoting the spirit of excellence in our profession and because our profession deals with the society, it, therefore, means we are central to the good development of our country. And when you have a good and responsible media, chances are that you have a more enlightened and democratic setting.”
For this year’s edition, what new things should the stakeholders be looking out for? Idowu said they should be encouraged to know that DAME will live up to its billing as a promoter of excellence, as it will not give out prizes in all the categories that have been announced because some do not just find winners.
“We would give prizes that we can defend and be proud of. We have never been interested in being the biggest but rather we have been interested in being the best. And I think we would restate that in the prizes that would be given.
“We would see a lot of keen competition among the various groups. We find winners coming from a whole range of publications and media houses. We also expect our friends to be present. There may be one of two surprises, but I will not reveal them now.
He said some of the sponsors had backed out, is it not inperpetuity once a sponsor gets in? He said emphatically no. He explained that some sponsors endow for three or five years though some had done it in perpetuity.
To be a sponsor of one of the categories, Idowu said the most important criterion is to be a lover of the media, and believe in its capacity for positive development.
“We do not look for moneybags who just want to use the media platform to boost their ego, we do not believe in that. In other words, you have to be acceptable to us and we acceptable to you. Also, you are going to leave the running of DAME to us, no sponsor dictates to us how we pick our winners, you must believe in the integrity of the brand.
“Then, once we have scaled that hurdle, the next thing is to agree on the type of sponsorship. The best would be to do it in perpetuity, but some do not believe that we would last this long. So they just decided to do it for a term.”
The award has been held consistently in Lagos, are their plans to take it to other parts of the country. The DAME Award boss revealed that though it has been out once, ten years ago to Abeokuta, but it was at the request of the Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba.
“It is not easy to take the award out. We are not against it, but we would not take people out to a place where we cannot cater for their welfare. We would not take people to anywhere our guests would be subjected to shabby treatment. We would not take on any hosting where we are not sufficiently sure of all the parameters involved. We care about our reputation; we do things in moderation.
“But if there is a request and we sit down to discuss the implication and we are assured that all concerns are reasonably addressed then we would consider it. All we have been doing is to do things that are within our budget and control. If we take it outside Lagos, it would not be under our control, so we would be relying on the goodwill of an organisation or person to host it. Where we are sure that the level of care, safety and commitment that our people deserve is in place, then we would consider it.”