Amnesty International UK Media Awards

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The Amnesty International Media Awards established in 1992 are awards "which recognise excellence in journalism that has made a significant contribution to the UK public’s greater awareness and understanding of human rights issues.".[1] Amnesty UK has also said of the awards:

"This is our one opportunity in the year to acknowledge the creativity, skills and sheer determination that it takes to get the news out, and in such a way as to educate and alert millions of viewers, listeners and readers."[2]

The awards acknowledge the unique relationship that exists between Amnesty International and the media. At the inaugural award in 1992, Sir Trevor McDonald said of the relationship;

"Amnesty persists where journalism leaves off. We visit these scenes and then move on. Amnesty has the virtue of sticking with the story and making sure the truth comes out,"[3]

Since the awards started in 1992 they have developed to include how new technology has affected journalism. The present awards are for National Newspapers, Magazines, Television News, Radio, International TV & Radio, Nations & Regions, Photojournalism, Digital Innovation, Student Human Rights Reporters and the Gaby Rado Memorial Award.

The judges are selected from the media, the arts and entertainment industries, the NGO sector, academia and the legal profession. Amnesty International senior staff also take part in the judging process but have no final vote over the choice of winners.

Awards may be made posthumously, such as the 2012 award to Marie Colvin for her coverage of Syria where she was killed whilst covering the siege of Homs.[4]

Following the 1997 awards, Peter Bottomley MP placed an Early day motion before the UK Parliament requesting that parliament agree:

"That this House notes the importance of the Amnesty International Press Awards, ...recognises that links with victims are usually achieved through the Press and broadcasters; and acknowledges that the search for the truth is sometimes a ticket to jail or worse for journalists."[5]

The most recent awards ceremony was held on 29 May 2012 at the British Film Institute in central London.[6][7] The 2013 awards are due to be announced on 11 June 2013.[1][dated info]

Previous winners[edit]

The winners of awards have varied from major news corporations to little known individuals who through their work have brought unknown and unrecognised human rights issues before the world media.

The first overall winner of the 1992 inaugural awards was "Cold Blood – “The massacre of East Timor”" produced by Peter Gordon for First Tuesday, Yorkshire Television.[3][8][9][10] The program graphically showed what has become known as the Santa Cruz massacre, one of many events during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor 1975 to 1999.

Past winners have included ITN Channel Four News team, BBC's Panorama, Al Jazeera English, O Dia newspaper, Brazil, Marielos Monzón of Guatemala, Ignacio Gómez of Columbia and Tell Magazine from Nigeria.

The winner of 2012[11][12] were: [dated info]

2012
Category Title Organisation Journalists Refs
Doumentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields ITN Productions for
Channel 4
Callum Macrae,
Chris Shaw, Jon Snow
[13][14]
[15]
Digital media Deaths in custody:
a case to answer
The Bureau of
Investigative Journalism
Iain Overton, Angus Stickler,
Dan Bell, Charlie Mole
[16][17]
[18]
Gaby Radio
Memorial Award
Horror in Homs Channel 4 News Mani[19][20] [14][21]
[22]
International TV
and Radio
Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark Al Jazeera English Jon Blair,
May Ying Welsh
[23][24]
Magazines: Consumer "Nature's defenders" New Internationalist Vanessa Baird[25] [26][27]
[28]
Magazines: Newspaper
supplements
"The rape of men" Observer Magazine Will Storr [29][30]
[31][32]
National Newspapers "We live in fear of a massacre" The Sunday Times Marie Colvin [33][34]
[35]
Nations and Regions "Torso in the Thames" ITV London Tonight Ronke Phillips,
Faye Nickolds
[36][37]
[38]
Photojournalism "A place to stay - Dale Farm" The Times Mary Turner[39] [40][41]
[42]
Radio "Victoria Derbyshire in
Guantanamo Bay"
BBC Radio 5 Live Victoria Derbyshire,
Louisa Compton
[43][44]
[45][46]
TV News "Undercover in Homs" BBC Newsnight Sue Lloyd-Roberts,
Amanda Gunn
[47][48]
Student Human Rights
Reporter Award
"The curious case of
John Oguchuckwu"
Glasgow University Guardian Amy Mackinnon [49][50]

Purpose of the awards[edit]

In 2002, Richard Bunting,[51] former Director of Communications at Amnesty International UK said:

"Journalists play a crucial role in exposing human rights abuses and putting a human face to what otherwise can be dismissed as a distant tragedy. These awards recognise the fact that the media’s role is often difficult but can be enormously powerful in changing the actions and even policies of the perpetrators of human rights abuses."[52]

Amnesty International believes that in recognizing excellence in human rights journalism journalists and commissioners are encouraged in increasing the quality and quantity of their human rights coverage. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese pro-democracy leader, said at the 2011 awards ceremony that it is “through the media that the rest of the world gets to hear about what we have to undergo in this country.”.[53] Amnesty have said of the award recipients:

"Without these journalists, who expose the unpalatable and highlight the hypocrisy of those who kill and torture, the guilty would be even less inclined than they are now to consider the implications of their actions. They portray the killers and the torturers in their true light and in this respect their work and that of Amnesty International is inextricably linked."[2]

The Awards generate mutually beneficial publicity both for shortlisted entrants and for the Amnesty International's work, and it also allows journalists and Amnesty's media team to network, facilitating better links between the UK media community and human rights campaigners. Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor, said of the awards:

"Amnesty Awards are really important. Because sometimes it’s very hard: you go in to see your editor and you say “something’s happening in such and such a country”; and it’s obscure, and it’s far away, and it’s expensive, and it’s difficult to get to, and there’s a much more interesting and immediate story somewhere else. And then maybe you point out that you won an Amnesty Award for a similar story a couple of years ago, and it makes them think: and it makes them think that they get some sort of kudos from this, and that it matters within the industry. So I think it’s tremendously important and I think Amnesty is doing a tremendous job by giving us these awards so that we can use them to say, "Yes, we’ve got to carry on reporting human rights, it really matters."[54]

Amy Mackinnon, the 2012 winner of the student award for article "The Curious Case of John Oguchuckwu",[49] said of the awards:

"The AIUK awards are a heartening reminder that, in the right hands, journalism can be a potent force for good,"[50]

Awards[edit]

Categories[edit]

[dated info] Categories for the 2013 awards are:

  • Digital Innovation
  • Documentary
  • Gaby Rado Memorial Award
  • International TV & Radio
  • Magazine - Weekly
  • Magazine - Monthly
  • National Newspapers
  • Nations & Regions
  • Photojournalism
  • Student Human Rights Reporter
  • Radio
  • Television News

Gaby Rado Memorial Award[edit]

The Gaby Rado Memorial Award, first awarded in May 2004, recognizes a journalist who has been covering national or international human rights stories in broadcast or print media for less than five years.[55][56]

The award was established with the help of the family, friends and colleagues of the journalist Gaby Rado, who was found dead in Iraq in 2003. Rado was the recipient of three Amnesty Media Awards. 1996 for a series of reports on Bosnia/Srebrenica, 1998 for coverage of the Muslim minority Uighurs in north-western China and 2002 for his "moving account of the human cost of the atrocities committed in the Balkan Wars".[57]

The inaugural award, 2004, was presented to James Astill[58][59][60] for his coverage of events in Democratic Republic of the Congo and the massacre in Bunia, 2003.[61][62][63] Astill's award winning work featuring in The Guardian, The Observer and on BBC Newsnight.[64][65][66][67][68][69][70]

Digital Media Award[edit]

The award was developed in 2008 as the 'New Media' award.[71]

The first award winner Sahar al-Haideri, a was nominated posthumously by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, for her work in Iraq.[72] Her work "Honour Killing Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict" [73][74] published 5 June 2007 was specifically cited by the judges.[71]

She had survived kidnap attempts and shootings. She had written many publications critical of the authorities under a pseudonym, with them published via blog for her safety. Shortly before her murder she had revealed her self as the writer. She was murdered on 7 June 2007 in Mosul by members of the Ansar al-Sunna extremist group who claimed she was spreading lies. Her murder brought wide condemnation.[75][76]

Other winners have been WikiLeaks, 2009, for their work in exposing extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Kenya.[77][78][79]

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has won the award twice. First, 2011,[80] for their work using a dedicated website "www.iraqwarlogs.com"[81] to analyse and expose the detail of Iraq War documents leak - WikiLeaks, 22 October 2010. The second award, 2012, was for "Deaths in Custody: A Case to Answer".[7][16]

Young Human Rights Reporter Of The Year Award[edit]

Young Human Rights Reporter Of The Year Award - (YHRR) is run together with 'The Guardian Teacher Network'[82] and 'SecEd'.[83] The award partners work together to provide teachers and students with educational materials, introductory lessons and a human rights article planning sheets to integrate the subjects of Human rights and Journalism in the class room.[84][85][86]

The Young Human Rights Reporter award is open to all young people in the UK of school age 7 to 18, Upper Primary to Sixth Form pupils. The Award is divided into 4 age groups and has 2 categories : Journalism and Photojournalism.[86][87]

The entries for the competition have surprised even the judges, "The range of subjects was quite eye-opening, and the quality of the writing was so fantastic"[88] with the young writers bringing to the judges' attention areas of human rights that were unknown to them.[89][90][91]

The subjects covered have ranged from bullying to sub munitions scattered across the landscape of Laos and killing many people every year. Ellie Crisell said of the entrants, "I think it is great that they are recognised for the brilliant work they are doing, and I hope it gives them a massive confidence boost and they go on to become the great journalists they clearly are."[92]

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK says of the awards "I hope this competition will inspire a new generation of writers and broadcasters to take up the mantle and become the human rights journalists of tomorrow.".[89]

Student Human Rights Reporter Award[edit]

The Student Human Rights Reporter Award was started in 2010 and first awarded in 2011.[80] Initially the award was run with The NUS (National Union Of Students) and The Mirror newspaper.[93][94] The Award is now run in conjunction with NUS, The Observer and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.[95]

The award is open to students in further and higher education, with award prize allowing the to work with sponsors to develop real world reporting and writing experience.[96] The Pulitzer centre funds the winner to allow then to travel and report on an area or subject of interest whilst receiving support from professional journalists.[97]

The Inaugural prize was won by Sophie Mei for “Sex Trafficking: A Family Affair” published by VERITA Magazine.[98][99] The 2012 prize was won by Amy Mackinnon, for "The curious case of John Oguchuckwu",[49] ⋅ published by The Glasgow Guardian.[4][11]

Entry criteria[edit]

Each year there is a call for submissions focusing on the areas of human rights work encompassed by Amnesty's mission, which is "to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied".[100][101][102]

Entries must have been originally published or broadcast in the year preceding the closing deadline. There is an entry fee to help Amnesty cover the cost of administering the awards. The full criteria is available in the Media Awards section of the Amnesty International UK website,[103] and are detailed on the entry form sent out each year around four months before the ceremony.

The ceremony[edit]

The ceremony is held annually in central London and is attended by around 400 guests, including politicians, celebrities, and prominent figures in the UK media industry. The host, usually a high profile member of the UK media, conducts the ceremony and the various awards are presented by representatives from each of the judging panels. Past hosts have included journalist and broadcaster Nick Clarke, Journalist and news reader Moira Stuart and Journalist Kate Adie. Celebrity guests presenting awards have include Bob Geldof, who presented The Special Award for "Human Rights Journalism Under Threat" 2004,[104] won by Kifle Mulat head of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association.[105]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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