Mary Arobaga-Reardon, 2002 winner
Co-winners Mary Arobaga-Reardon (reporter/producer with VOA’s Africa Division) and Jeff Daugherty (video photographer) risked life and limb for their half-hour television special, “Life in Nigeria’s Niger Delta,” uncovering the real story behind the oil fields in Nigeria.
Their piece focused on how oil affects wealth distribution, human rights and environmental violations. The journalists came under attack by various groups— they were assailed by Nigerian police, stoned by disgruntled demonstrators, accosted by machete-wielding locals and briefly held for ransom by an ex-army chief.
“This is the kind of reporting that has given VOA its reputation for quality,” said VOA Director David Jackson. “Stories like these are hard to get— but they can really make a difference.”
Shortly after the documentary was produced, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo promised to increase funding for development programs in the Niger delta region. In addition, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria has asked Arobaga-Reardon to return to the region and reappraise their social and environmental efforts.