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Ten awards that recognise courage in journalism

by Timothy Large | @timothylarge | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 12 January 2015 21:17 GMT

REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Application deadlines loom for prizes honouring bravery by reporters and editors worldwide

As a member of the preparatory committee of the European Press Prize, I had the privilege this weekend of reading submissions to Europe's answer to the Pulitzer. Sifting through scores of entries to narrow down a shortlist, I was struck by the sheer courage of journalists who took on hard-hitting subjects despite risks to their own safety.

Bravery and freedom of expression are much in the public consciousness following last week’s attack on satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best awards that recognise courage in journalism in one form or another.

Entries for the European Press Prize are closed but the following awards are worth the attention of journalists seeking recognition for bravery in a job that often pays little and can take a toll both mentally and physically.

It can also be deadly. As this interactive Reuters infographic shows, far too many journalists have lost their lives – 1,109 since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This list is in no particular order and is far from exhaustive. No doubt many fine awards are missing. Please feel free to add other suggestions in the comments section below.

I’m not including (except in passing) well known awards such as the Pulitzer PrizesSociety of Publishers in Asia Awards, the World Press Photo Contest or The News and Documentary Emmy Awards, though courage is integral to much of the reporting these big gongs honour.

Nor does the list contain countless awards highlighting reportage on injustice, intolerance or rights abuses - the likes of the One World Media Awards or the Women on the Move Media Award and Ockenden Prizes on refugee issues, to name just a few.


Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism

From today, the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund is accepting submissions for its 14th annual awards recognising the work of reporters who “seek to illuminate the human condition through courageous reporting of conflict, corruption, human rights transgressions and other key issues”.

Established in 2002, the awards honour American freelance journalist Kurt Schork, who was killed in 2000 while on assignment for Reuters in Sierra Leone.

They are for print journalism only and have two categories. One honours the often unacknowledged work of local reporters in developing nations or countries in transition who write about local issues. The second is for freelance journalists who go to conflict zones, often with little protection.

The award for each category is $5,000, to be presented at a ceremony hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation in London on Thursday, October 29. The deadline for entries is May 31.


The Rory Peck Awards

The Rory Peck Trust, named after Northern Irish cameraman Rory Peck who was killed in Moscow in 1993, supports freelance journalists worldwide.

Its annual awards are “uniquely dedicated to the work of freelance cameramen and women in news and current affairs. Internationally respected and highly prized, they celebrate the skill and achievement of freelancers around the world and demonstrate why they are so important to the newsgathering industry”.

The prizes are also the main fundraising event for the trust, helping it provide grants, insurance, safety training and other resources for freelancers worldwide. Applications for this year’s award are not yet open.


Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award

The International Women’s Media Foundation is accepting nominations for women journalists who have reported in dangerous places. The award is named after AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed last year in Afghanistan.

The deadline is Feb. 1 and candidates can submit self-nominations. Applicants can be either freelancers or work for media outlets but must have built up a body of work in hostile environments.


Trust Women Journalist Award

Each year, the Trust Women Conference, organised by Thomson Reuters Foundation, recognises a journalist who has made a significant contribution to the coverage of women’s rights. Winning candidates must have shed light on pressing under-reported issues and shown courage in their reporting.

The award is worth $5,000 and the winner will be unveiled at the Trust Women Conference in London on November 9. Keep an eye on the Trust Women website for details.


The Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma

The Dart Awards honour North American newspaper, magazine, online, radio, TV, video and multimedia journalism that “goes beyond the ordinary in reporting on trauma”. These are team prizes, worth $5,000.

A project of the Colombia University Graduate School of Journalism, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is dedicated to informed and ethical reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. The deadline for applications is Jan. 29.


International Press Institute World Press Freedom Heroes

The International Press Institute recognises journalists who have shown extraordinary courage and resilience in fighting for press freedom. IPI has  to date honoured 66 individuals including Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, and, posthumously, Anna Politkovskaya of Russia and U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.

The first 50 "heroes" were chosen to mark the organization's 50th anniversary in 2000. Find more details on the IPI’s website.


Hillman Prizes

The Sidney Hillman Foundation is accepting entries for its Hillman Prizes recognising investigative journalism and commentary in the public interest.

“Winners exemplify resourcefulness and courage in reporting, skilled storytelling, social impact and relevance to the ideals of Sidney Hillman,” according to the Foundation’s website. Hillman, who died in 1946, was a champion of “progressive industrial democracy” in the United States.

The deadline for submission is Jan. 30 and the awards cover books, newspaper, magazine, broadcast and web journalism. Reporters from anywhere in the world can apply but their work must have been widely accessible to a U.S. audience.


The Michael Kelly Award

Veteran U.S. journalist Michael Kelly was the first American killed after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The award set up in his name honours “the fearless pursuit and expression of truth”, qualities that exemplified Kelly’s career.

Entries must be for work published in a U.S.-based newspaper, magazine or online site. The deadline is Feb. 6. Visit the website to enter. The prize is $25,000.


UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

Named in honour of assassinated Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, this $45,000 award “is intended to honour a person, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger,” according to UNESCO’s website.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 15. Only U.N. member states, regional and international organisations and professional and non-governmental organisations working in the field of journalism or freedom of expression can make nominations.

The prize is awarded on World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Anna Lindh Mediterranean Journalist Award

Founded in 2006 in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists, this award is named after Swedish politician Anna Lindh who was assassinated in 2003. The prize “recognises the positive role played by the media in reporting on issues of cultural diversity and providing balanced and informed coverage,” says the Anna Lindh Foundation website.

Hosted at Thomson Reuters Foundation headquarters in London, last year’s awards honoured “high-quality, courageous reporting from the Middle East that exposed the social realities behind the headlines of extremism, social crisis and cultural regression”.



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