Uncategorized Award-winning arts journalist to quit competition

Award-winning arts journalist to quit competition

Charl Blignaut has won the National Arts Festival (NAF) and Business and Arts South Africa (Basa) Arts Journalist of the Year award for the second year running, but is conflicted by the triumph.

The City Press journalist said he has taken a decision not to enter the competition next year.

“I think winning this award is really cool, but I am a bit conflicted,” he said. “It is time we started reflecting about the space we occupy as arts reporters. I think we need to make this space relevant for readers. It is changing. The days of writing about music only are over. We have to write about pop culture and scandals as well.”

“I suspect I won the award because of the work I did around the SABC, most of which appeared in news pages,” he said.

The stories that Blignaut wrote on the SABC focused on the organisational rot at the public broadcaster, which forced a number of board members to resign. He said because of these stories he had been nominated for the news story category.

Blignaut said he had hoped journalistic awards would, over the years, reflect a form of transformation in line with the country’s democratic dispensation since 1994. This is only the second year that the awards are being presented.

“My hopes were that there would have been some deserving black journalist winning the award,” he said. “The number of white names in the shortlist shows that we are not transformed yet. I have made a decision not to enter the competition next year.”

At the announcement, Tony Lankester, CEO of the National Arts Festival, congratulated the winners but raised a note of concern around the ever-decreasing amount of coverage afforded the arts.

He also challenged media owners to address transformation in the sector, noting that the pool of entries didn’t represent diversity and a range of voices.

As the overall winner, Blignaut receives R5 000 and will be invited to travel with a South African production to be invited to one of the World Fringe Alliance Fringe Festivals overseas.





Gold Award

Anna Stielau

Oliver Roberts


Silver Special Merit Award

Nick Mulgrew

Rob Boffard


Silver Award

Charl Blignaut

Matthew Krouse

Bruce Dennill




Gold Awards

Matthew Krause

Steve Kretzmann


Silver Special Merit Award

Eugene Yiga


Silver Award

Ang Lloyd

Steyn du Toit



Gold Award

Charl Blignaut


Special Silver Merit Award

Brooks J Spector


Silver Award

Yazeed Kamaldien

Matthew Blackman



Gold Award

Theana Breugem


Special Silver Merit Award

Jesse Kramer


Silver Award

Sizwe Ndingane

Alet Pretorius


Khanyile Mlotshwa

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