Courageous Journalism Recognized by Haul of Awards

GABO 2018 winners * Photo David Estrada / FNPI

Journalism’s awards in 2018 show that good reporting can thrive despite technological and political threats, disinformation and financial pressures. Inspiring and determined journalists around the world are overcoming challenging circumstances and taking advantage of the digital revolution to produce reporting worthy of acclaim.

We have compiled a list of stories that won global and regional awards to highlight just some of exceptional journalism produced in the past year. Winning stories came from all over the world, produced by new and traditional outlets in a variety of languages, experimenting with a variety of storytelling and investigative techniques. But despite the diversity of their production, many dealt with similar topics: migration and refugees, authoritarian governments, crime and corruption.

Stories of individual and collective human tragedies — due to political failure — have similarities no matter where they happen. Reuters photographs exposing the raw violence of the Rohingya refugee crisis received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. Elsewhere Reuters Life in the camps, a multimedia story combining video, still photography, satellite imagery, mapping, and text to convey the extreme living conditions in the camps, was recognised by GEN Data Journalism Awards for its powerful use of data.

Migration was a common subject for awards winners, including coverage of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. El Tiempo in Colombia and Efecto Cocuyo in Venezuela, teamed up to produce Venezuela a la fuga - a powerful story following migrants on their routes to Lima, Buenos Aires and Curaçao. The coverage, which included analytical articles, infographics and a web documentary, was awarded the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Award for Coverage.

Photo journalist Meridith Kohut received the Maria Moors Cabot Award for her investigation exposing children dying of famine in Venezuelan state hospitals.

Authoritarian government practices were a rich vein of journalistic material in 2018. State capture of media in Cambodia, Russia’s interference in US elections and the rise of the extreme right movement were covered, highlighting threats to freedom and democracy. Surveillance in China was examined by Buzzfeed in their piece This is what a 21st century surveillance state looks like, which won the Human Rights Press Award for revealing the scope of technology-enabled policing.

Covering high-level crime can be among the most dangerous work for journalists, but crucial for shedding light on the plight of vulnerable people who cannot defend themselves. Subjects covered by award-winning reporters in 2018 included murder and violence in Brazil, femicide in Argentina, abuse of children in Egypt and sexual harassment of girls in the US. The exceptional investigation ‘This crime only requires poverty, internet and a distant buyer, by Ida Nyegård Espersen, received the European Press Prize for shedding light on sexual abuse of hundreds of children in the Philippines, perpetuated via the internet by men in Denmark.

Political and corporate corruption remains a key subject for award-winning journalists. This was seen in El Caso Lava Juez in Peru and Los Cuadernos de la corrupción in Argentina, both of which shared an award from the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) in 2018. Stories on the abuse of iPhone factory workers in China, investigations into agrochemical company Monsanto’s aggressive strategy against the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), articles about global pharmaceutical companies violating international law and testing drugs on vulnerable patients in Egypt — all exposed the illegal and unethical business practices of multinational corporations. The revelations brought to light by these stories, have made a huge impact and bring about change.

Journalists have savvily combined data journalism and storytelling skills to cover natural and man-made catastrophes such as hurricanes or oil spillages, deforestation and wildfires. La Nacion from Argentina won the GEN Data Journalism Award for using live open data to cover the search for the lost ARA San Juan submarine, which went missing in November.

Meanwhile, beautiful storytelling can challenge perceptions around some of the most difficult topics. ‘The third shooting of the boy Petar from Konjic’ was awarded the European Press Prize, telling the story of war and genocide in the Balkans through the eyes of a seven-year old victim of the conflict. Bisha TV in Sudan won the Rory Peck Award for News Features for a satirical puppet show, highlighting the absurdities of civil war in the Nuba Mountains.

Innovative and collaborative journalism models were also recognised. The #GuptaLeaks project in South Africa was an investigation into state capture by the wealthy Gupta family, produced by teams from three media outlets: amaBhungane, Daily Maverick and News24. Working together, they were able to combine investigative skills, editing and online presentation as well as increasing the potential audience for the stories. Meanwhile in the UK, Bureau Local, a collaborative journalism project of more than 450 journalists and volunteers, received the European Press Prize Innovation Award for tackling underreported issues, including the use of political darks ads, cuts to domestic violence refuge funding, and wide-scale farming pollution.

Some journalists and outlets received multiple awards. In addition to the Gabriel Garcia Marquez prize for ‘Venezuela a la Fuga’, with El Tiempo, Efecto Cocuyo’s founder Luz Mely Reyes also won the Committee to Protect Journalism’s (CPJ) press freedom award for covering politics in Venezuela for 25 years, despite the dangerous and repressive conditions. Rappler, an independent online outlet in the Philippines, not only won the GEN Data Journalism award for best data journalism website of the year, but its founder Maria Ressa also won CPJ’s Press freedom award for Rappler’s work in a hostile political environment.

If 2018’s prizes proved anything, it was that award-winning journalism does not come easily. It requires determination, personal dedication, courage, and a major investment of time and resources. The inspiring examples above prove the value of quality reporting remains as high as ever.

Program on Independent Journalism, Open Society Foundations

Major global and regional journalism awards

Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Awards
CPJ honours journalists who show courage in defending press freedom around the world despite facing threats, legal action, and imprisonment.

Global Editors Network Data Journalism Awards
The GEN data journalism awards celebrate outstanding work in the field of data journalism worldwide produced by big or small media organisations.

Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards
The awards celebrate individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.

Rory Peck Awards for Freelance Journalists
Named after the Northern-Irish cameraman killed in crossfire while on duty, the awards celebrate the outstanding work of freelance video journalists in news and current affairs.

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
Named after a murdered Colombian journalist, the prize honours a person, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

Africa: The African Fact-Checking Awards
The only award that each year honour journalism by Africa-based media in the growing field of fact-checking.

Africa:Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism
The investigative journalism awards in South Africa

America: Maria Moors Cabot Award
Presented by the trustees of Columbia University, the award recognises journalists for outstanding reporting and contribution to inter-American understanding.

Asia: Human Rights Press Awards
The award recognises top reporting from Asia in English and Chinese languages. It aims to identify and encourage excellent investigative and original reporting.

Europe: European Press Prize
The award honours quality journalism playing a part in defining the vital importance of fine reporting, shrewd analysis and outspoken comment in Europe.

Ibero-America: Gabriel Garcia Marquez Journalism Award
Named after Colombian novelist and journalist Gabriel García Márquez, the award aims to encouraging the pursuit of excellence, innovation and ethical coherence by journalists and media working in Spanish and Portuguese languages ​​in the Americas and the Iberian peninsula.

Latin America: El Instituto Prensa y Sociedad Investigative Journalism Award
The IPYS award recognises the best of investigative journalism in Latin America and aims to motivate journalistic work focused on scrutinising and exposing information of public interest.

Middle East: ARIJ
The ARIJ prize recognises the best journalistic investigations across the Arab region in print, film and cross-border reporting. It aims to enhance excellence in investigative journalism, based on documented facts, research and multiple sources.

Middle East: Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press
The award, named after the assassinated Lebanese journalist, recognises Arab journalists’ efforts in defending press freedom and contributing to public debate.

United States: Pulitzer’s Prize
Established at Columbia University in the will of the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the prize honours excellence in journalism, books, drama and music in the United States.

International Journalism Event Calendar 2019

We have listed the main international journalism conferences and workshops coming up in 2019. Download them to your calendar so you don’t miss any events this year!

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The @OpenSociety Program on Independent Journalism works to support a more independent, diverse, secure, and accountable media sector worldwide.