Washington, D.C. — The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has awarded Rashmi Shukla and Jagdish Sarin of the Voice of America’s (VOA) Hindi Service during its meeting in Washington and Andrei Babitsky of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during its meeting in Prague, with the first annual David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award. This award, named after former BBG Chairman David Burke, serves to acknowledge courage, integrity, and originality in reporting the news within the BBG broadcast organizations. The award also commends broadcasters who display a commitment to the advancement of the cause of democracy and the free exchange of ideas.
Shukla and Sarin were recognized for their work on the VOA Hindi series, entitled “Dowry: The Continuing Curse.” The broadcasts focused national attention on the scourge of the dowry system in India that has led to the systematic torture, and sometimes, the death of Indian girls and women.
Babitsky was chosen for his work reporting on events in Chechnya. Russian officials arrested Babitsky after complaining about his reporting on the war in Chechnya. After keeping Babitsky in detention for 40 days, Russian officials released him in Daghestan. Following his detention, Babitsky was released on his own recognizance but restricted to Moscow and later tried. He now works out of RFE/RL’s headquarters in Prague.
Marc Nathanson, current Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said, “In honoring these journalists, we celebrate David Burke’s commitment to excellence in journalism. We honor the courage and integrity of these fine journalists along with their many colleagues reporting unbiased news and information to our audiences around the world.”
David W. Burke was the founding chairman and leader of the BBG for its first three years. He had an illustrious career as a news and broadcast executive. Burke is the former President of CBS News and served as both Vice President and Executive Vice President of ABC News.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors supervises the operations of the three federally funded broadcast elements of the International Broadcasting Bureau (Voice of America, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, and Radio and TV Martí). The BBG also administers grants of congressionally appropriated funds to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, two non-profit corporations.