Winners of 2018 Kurt Schork Memorial Award Announced

by Belen Becerra
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 12:26 GMT

Photo credit: Kurt Schork Memorial Fund

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The winners of an award to honour some of the most courageous yet least recognised journalists around the world were announced this week, alongside an award for news fixers.

Now in their 17th year, the Kurt Schork Memorial Awards are named in honour of American freelance journalist Kurt Schork who was killed in Sierra Leone while on assignment for Reuters in 2000.

Simona Foltyn, an Austrian journalist based in the UAE, has won the Freelance category award for her reporting about the war in South Sudan.The judges agreed that her stories stood out and ‘were impressively detailed, powerful as well as fearless and compassionate.’

Indian journalist, Shalini Nair, won the Local Reporter category. The stories, written for The Indian Express, ‘were compelling, interesting and well reported. They tackled important but under-reported topics deftly and thoughtfully.’

A shortlist of eight in each of the two categories was judged by Reuters Regional Editor, Simon Robinson, The Guardian’s Julian Borger, and Dan De Luce from NBC News.

The 2018 Freelance category finalists were Cassandra Winograd (USA/France), Cathy Otten (UK), Philip Obaji Jr. (Nigeria), Sally Hayden (Ireland), Jack Losh (UK), Tom Westcott (UK) and Peter Tinti (USA).The Local Reporter category finalists were Safaa Khalaf (Iraq), Saada Abdelkader (Egypt), Aline Ribeiro (Brazil), Oksana Grytsenko (Ukraine), Mohammed Al-Khatieb (Syria), Bulent Ceyhan (Turkey) and Sheikh Saaliq (India).

The Kurt Schork Memorial Awards will also confer the News Fixer Award to recognise the unsung heroes of modern journalism at the October ceremony. Rarely credited and usually in danger, these on-the-ground ‘guides’ often also act as translators, drivers and assistant reporters. It is the fixers’ local expertise, as well as their network of official – and unofficial – contacts that provides the raw source material for the out-of-town correspondents.

The prize was inspired by the freelance journalist, author and friend of Kurt Schork, Anna Husarska, and pays tribute to the vital role that news fixers play in coverage from difficult, dangerous and hostile locations.

This year’s News Fixer award was won by Syrian news fixer Wael Resol, who was nominated three times by international journalists who hired him as their fixer during assignments in Iraq.

The 2018 News Fixer category finalists were Sangar Khaleel (Iraq), Kimberley de la Cruz (Philippines), Irene Lioumi (Greece), Redwan Ahmed (Bangladesh), Kamiran Sadoun (Syria), Bienvenu Bitta (Central African Republic) and Aung Naing Soe (Myanmar).

The judges - BBC’s Hugh Schofield, Associate Global Editor of the Daily Mail Online Jake Wallis Simons, and journalist and author, Jon Lee Anderson – were most impressed with Wael Resol’s ‘courage, dedication and flexibility, three of the most important qualities that a fixer must possess. The number of fixers who will spend several nights sleeping in the field, in hostile environments, and go on to work with sensitivity and an acute nose for news, is small. On top of this, Wael is able to develop a rapport with military figures, contacts and interviewees alike by way of his professionalism and respect rather than anything more potentially compromising, a quality which makes him stand out head and shoulders above other very fine fixers working in similar environments. He is a credit to the profession and a huge boon to any journalist working with him. He thoroughly deserves this award.’

The three category winners will each receive a cash prize of US $5000 to be presented at a prestigious awards ceremony in the Thomson Reuters auditorium in Canary Wharf on the evening of Wednesday, 17th October. You can register to attend the event here.