The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) today announced the winners of the 2009 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award. Named for former BBG Chairman David Burke, the award recognizes courage, integrity and originality in reporting by journalists within the BBG broadcast organizations.
This year’s winners are: Luis Ramirez of Voice of America (VOA), the Afghanistan-based correspondents of RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, the radio news department of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Tseten Dolkar of the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Serwa Abdel Wahed and Akram Alrubaiei of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ Alhurra TV.
VOA’s Ramirez ran a series of video/Web reports on the precarious journey defectors from North Korea face. Ramirez secretly shot footage from a military zone in China into North Korea, got interviews with defectors as well as documenting troubles they face once in China or Thailand.
“Given the difficulty accessing these places and people, Mr. Ramirez’s compelling reports shone the media spotlight on an issue that has rarely been reported in such depth,” said BBG Governor Steve Simmons. “Amazingly enough, this is not the first time Luis has been recognized for his powerful reporting. He won the Burke Award in 2006 for reporting on life in North Korea.”
Coverage of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 made Radio Marti a leading source of news about the devastating storms. Radio Marti was able to provide the Cuban people with the story their government withheld.
“In covering the devastation of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Radio Marti news heard directly from Cubans about their lives and their struggle to survive,” said BBG Governor Joaquin Blaya. “If there was ever an opportunity for the media to build bridges with listeners, breaking the walls imposed by censorship, this was it.”
RFA’s Tseten Dolkar was recognized for her outstanding reporting during 10 months of 2008 covering the Tibetan uprisings.
“She helped cover the earliest stories of Tibetan unrest due to the Tibetan peoples’ trust in her objectivity, as she employed multiple sources, including the Chinese police, and triple-checked her stories before broadcasting,” said BBG Governor Blanquita Cullum.
Alhurra TV’s Wahed and Alrubaiei reported stories of human interest, to shine a light on the day-to-day struggles of Iraqis, in the violent and dangerous regions of Iraq.
“Both played a large role in Alhurra’s coverage of the Iraqi elections earlier this year. They provided updates from voting booths in Mosul and Nasariya, showing voters that it was safe for them to come out and vote,” said BBG governor Joaquin Blaya.
The RFE/RL Afghan Service was honored in Prague last month for routinely reporting from one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Their reports routinely cover suicide bombings, drug trafficking, warlord issues and corruption.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti). Through its broadcast services, the BBG provides the United States and its leaders direct and immediate access to a worldwide audience of 155 million people.
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