BBG Journalists Honored For Bravery, Excellence And Innovation

DECEMBER 30, 2013

Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reporter Shohret Hoshur accepts silver medal at the New York Festivals radio awards ceremony.
Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reporter Shohret Hoshur accepts silver medal at the New York Festivals radio awards ceremony.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 2013 the networks of the Broadcasting Board of Governors earned high-profile awards and accolades for their innovative use of technology, commitment to excellence and dedication to providing quality, unbiased information to audiences around the world.

Journalists from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting received honors from the New York Festivals, the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB), the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists and many other organizations.

“Our journalists do extraordinary work every day, but it’s important to take stock of their most outstanding achievements at the year’s end,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “These awards confirm what we at the BBG already know – that we’re working with some of the most courageous, talented and dedicated journalists in the world.  I am extremely proud of what they have accomplished in 2013, and I look forward to even more success in 2014.”

Voice of America

Voice of America’s OnTen, a satirical weekly television program that covers and often pokes fun at Iranian officialdom, was honored with a “Special Recognition for a Televised Series” 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award.

VOA reporters received three Associated Press awards at the Chesapeake AP Broadcasters Association’s annual awards banquet. VOA correspondent Carolyn Presutti and photographer Michael Burke were awarded the top prize for the Sports Features award for their story on the Haitian Tarantulas, a soccer team with many players who lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake. VOA Midwest Correspondent Kane Farabaugh received the Outstanding Video Journalist/One-Man Band award for his footage on the clashes in Chicago during the 2012 NATO Summit. Farabaugh and Burke were also honored for their work on the VOA documentary A Dry Season.

A Dry Season was also named runner-up for the Star Prize in Broadcasting by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress in Buenos Aires, placed first in the “Multimedia Production” category at the American Agricultural Editors Association, and was awarded the International Clarion Award by the Association of Women in Communication.

VOA’s Bill Workinger received the Dateline Award for local journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists for his photograph of Tiger Woods sealing his 74th all-time PGA tour victory.

Ilir Ikonomi, Team Leader of VOA’s Albanian Service, was awarded the Medal of Gratitude by Albanian President Bujar Nishani.

Steve Ember was designated a finalist in the “Best Narration” category at the New York Festivals International Radio Awards for his work on “The Making of a Nation,” a weekly VOA Learning English series of highly produced, 15-minute audio documentaries that teach American history through narration, music, news actuality, and interview clips.

VOA correspondents Jerome Socolovsky and Michael O’Sullivan won awards at the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) annual ceremony. Socolovsky’s video report “Churches Take up Fight for Stressed Parents,” placed first in the RNA Television “National Network/Cable News Religion Report of the Year” category. O’Sullivan won third place for his story “California Group Helps Young Muslims, Jews Find Common Ground.”

Voice of America received five nominations in the 2013 AIB Awards. Coney Island Rebirth was nominated in the “Short Report or Documentary/TV” category; from the VOA Persian Service, OnTen’s Iranian Election Special was a finalist in the “Specialist Genre Program or Series” category; and for best international radio personality, Paul Westpheling of VOA’s International Edition and Steve Ember of VOA Learning English were finalists. VOA also received a nomination in the “Production Technology” category for VOA Khmer Service’s iPhone interview with Oun Phea.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Journalists working across the regions covered by RFE/RL have won accolades for their work in investigative reporting and multimedia presentation.

RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondents Khadija Ismayilova and Nushabe Fatullayeva won a 2013 Global Shining Light Award for discovering that members of Azerbaijan’s first family hold sizable stakes in a new gold and silver mine that has blocked villagers’ access to land and water.

Radio Farda’s Vahid Pourostad was a Silver Radio Winner at the 2013 New York Festivals International Radio Programs and Promos Awards for his radio documentary, Solitary Confinement. The 18-part series was honored in the category of “Best Investigative Report” for its unflinching account of the horrors faced by Iranian activists, journalists and intellectuals imprisoned in the country’s most unseen and unspeakable places.

In the 2013 AIB Awards, RFE/RL received a Highly Commended nod for its investigative radio documentary Victims of 88 (AKA 2009) and its short feature At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt. This report also received a Bronze Award for “Internet Video Documentary” in October from The Lovie Awards, which recognizes “the most resonant and pertinent stories in Europe,” and was cited as an Official Honoree at the 2013 Webby Awards in the “News & Politics: Individual Episode” category.

RFE/RL correspondent Olesya Vartanyan was awarded a “Special Prize for Peace Journalism” by the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM). Radio Free Afghanistan received a letter of appreciation for its promotion of human rights from the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission. RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service correspondent and Azattyk+ television show presenter Eliza Kenenbaeva was named Kyrgyzstan’s best TV moderator for 2013 in an online survey of the readers of Super-Info, the country’s most popular newspaper. For the second year in a row, RFE/RL was named an “Official Honoree” in the Radio & Podcasts category at the 2013 Webby Awards for outstanding achievement in new media and creative technology.

Middle East Broadcasting Networks

Alhurra Television was named a finalist for two awards in the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards – for Best News Correspondent/Reporter and Best Station/Image Promotion.  MBN’s Afia Darfur report “The Perils of Prosecutors in Darfur” was named a finalist in the “Best Coverage of an Ongoing News Story” category in the International Radio Program Competition. Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi was nominated for Best News Correspondent/Reporter for his outstanding coverage of the Syrian conflict.

Fahmi has worked for the network since 2004 and has filed high quality reports from Syria. In August 2012, Fahmi was reporting from Aleppo when he was caught in the crossfire that led to the murder of one journalist and capture and subsequent release of another.  No one has heard from him since.

Alhurra was also recognized for its excellence in promotions production. In the 2013 PromaxBDA Arabia Awards, Alhurra TV won the Gold Award for Best News or Factual Programming Promo for Alhurra-Iraq’s Final Edition promo. Final Edition also won a Bronze Award for best use of English typography. Alhurra won a Silver Award in the “Something for Nothing” category for its Radio Sawa promo and a Bronze Award in the “Something for Nothing” category for its Ramadan greetings promo.  Alhurra was also a finalist for the PromaxBDA Global Excellence Award for its promo marking the second anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution.

Pan Arab Web Awards Academy gave Radio Sawa the Facebook Interactive Award for its interactivity with the audience, rich content, easy to navigate design and the number of “likes.” BassAwards 2013 awarded Alhurra Television the Bronze Award for the on-air promotion of Alhurra Files in the Best Program Branding Design category.

The Middle East Broadcasting Networks also garnered three nominations in the 2013 AIB Awards. The Afia Darfur episode on Darfurian refugees was nominated in the “Live Radio Journalism” category. Alhurra TV’s Rayheen Ala Fain? (Where Are We Going?) was a finalist in the “Specialist Genre Program or Series” category and Street Pulse’s episode on child labor was nominated for “Middle East TV Documentary.”

Radio Free Asia

Innovative use of technology and high quality journalism earned Radio Free Asia (RFA) several high profile awards in 2013. The network’s e-book on the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989, produced with the assistance of the BBG’s Office of Digital and Design Innovation, won the top award for innovative production technology at this year’s AIB International Media Excellence Awards.

Two RFA reporters were named winners of silver and bronze medals at this year’s New York Festivals radio awards ceremony. RFA’s Uyghur Service reporter Shohret Hoshur won silver in the international contest’s category of “Best Coverage of an Ongoing News Story” for his investigation into the enforced disappearance of Uyghurs after deadly ethnic unrest in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in July 2009. RFA Korean reporter Jinkuk Kim took bronze in the category of “Best Human Interest Story” for his piece on the mixed emotions of North Korean refugees who watched the U.S.-North Korea women’s soccer match in the 2012 London Olympics.

RFA also won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the “Reporting Hard News” category for its report, “Billionaire Flees China’s Modern Day Red Terror,” produced by RFA’s Cantonese Service. The piece consists of an on-camera interview with former Chinese real-estate mogul Li Jun, who fled China in 2010. He was one of the highest-profile victims of the anti-mob and corruption campaign orchestrated by disgraced Chongqing politician and former Politburo member Bo Xilai and ex-police chief Wang Lijun. The award is sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

RFA also won a prestigious Gracie Award for its Cantonese language entry “Kidnapped Woman Reunites with Family” in the international contest’s category of “Outstanding Investigative Program or Feature.” The annual Gracie Awards recognize programming created by women and focused on issues relating to women. They are sponsored by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation.

Office of Cuba Broadcasting

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting’s TV Martí was nominated for three Suncoast Emmy awards in 2013 for its special programs La Nueva Cuba de Las Damas de Blanco (The New Cuba of the Ladies in White), La Caridad Nos Une (The Virgin Unites UsandSueno Olimpico (Olympic Dream).