Washington, D.C. – The United States Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) Board of Governors honored excellence in journalism at its annual David Burke Distinguish Journalism Awards on December 12. Board Chairman Kenneth Weinstein and Chief Executive Officer and Director John F. Lansing recognized the men and women from each of USAGM’s five networks—Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks—for their courage, integrity and professionalism.
“When I see reports from your various agencies, there’s sort of a brand approval that is noticed…I think you should be really proud that you’ve raised it to such a level that you’re among the established journalistic sources that are out there in a time of great noise and confusion,” Robert McMahon, Executive Editor for the Council of Foreign Relations, and former journalist at RFE/RL, said in his keynote address.
The award ceremony, held at USAGM headquarters in Washington, D.C., took a particularly serious tone in light of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year announcement the day before, which recognized numerous journalists, including murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as “guardians of the truth.”
“For just doing their jobs—reporting the facts—these journalists, and many more like them, wore targets on their back. Some paid the ultimate price,” said USAGM CEO Lansing. “Yet, the risks they take, and the passion in which they take those risks, inspires me.”
The winners represented each of the five USAGM networks and reported from such media-repressed areas as Myanmar, Turkey, Syria, Cuba, and Kyrgyzstan. They are:
- VOA Turkish Service, for its breaking news coverage and extensive follow-up after attacks on peaceful protesters outside the home of the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, D.C., despite the risk of physical harm and continued harassment
- RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service Journalist Ulanbek Egizbaev, given posthumously, for his bravery and achievements in producing content of the highest quality and integrity in service to the people of Kyrgyzstan.
- OCB photojournalist Rodolfo Hernandez, for his intrepid determination and enthusiastic reporting from Colombia, Nicaragua.3-*+ and more, in an effort to keep Cuban audiences informed on current events that state-controlled media were often silent on.
- RFA Burmese Service Reporter Kan Thar, for his extensive reporting from Shan State, a remote, rugged and dangerous area that makes up approximately one-quarter of Myanmar.
- MBN Alhurra TV Correspondent Heybar Othman, for his persistent reporting from northern Syria to ensure Alhurra viewers are accurately informed of the latest events in the devastating civil war there.
“It can’t be overstated how important your work is; getting the truth out to people who don’t have access to the truth and who need it most of all benefits all of us and it demonstrates the best ideals of your profession,” said USAGM’s Board Chairman Weinstein. “I know that our audiences around the world depend on us and thank you greatly for all you do.”