From Sex Traffickers To Kung Fu Nuns: The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s news team notched up a record year

by Belinda Goldsmith
Monday, 18 December 2017 16:53 GMT

Buddhist nuns in India's remote Himalayan region of Ladakh teach around 100 girls and young women the martial art of Kung Fu amid rising reports of rape in India. Taken on Aug 18, 2017. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/NITA BHALLA

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From exposing the lives of sex traffickers in Mexico to interviewing Kung Fu nuns teaching women how to fend of sex attackers in India, the editorial team at the Thomson Reuters Foundation has had an interesting, varied and highly lauded year in 2017. For us the Rohingya crisis ensured the plight of refugees and migrants from Asia to Africa to Europe – a topic very much in our minds - remained in the spotlight while daily headlines on the true extent of slavery globally and the human impact of climate change put the issues covered by the Foundation at the forefront of global debate. We focus on real lives impacted by inequality, discrimination and poverty - with our journalism adhering strictly to the Thomson Reuters’ standards of being fair, accurate, and impartial -  and this is earning us increasing praise and recognition globally, with the Foundation winning four major media awards in 2017 as well as a list of travel and media fellowships.

Our investigation into child deaths in mica mines in India - that prompted a slew of multi-national companies to promise to take action and legal changes - helped win our South Asia Correspondent Nita Bhalla the highly coveted award of Journalist of the Year by the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA). Our Chief Correspondent in the Americas, Ellen Wulfhorst, won the Newswomen’s Club of New York award for Beat Reporting in the Wires Category for her coverage on how rising waters in Louisiana are impacting lives. Our food security correspondent Umberto Bacchi won the online media category of the Mediterranean Journalist Awards presented by the Anna Lindh Foundation and International Federation of Journalists for his story on how a group of African migrants successfully set up an organic yogurt business in Italy after several years working in exploitative conditions on farms.

But it was not just our text stories that were praised but also our multi-media work and increasing file of videos, both news stories and longer former documentaries. Liz Mermin won first place in the Humanitarian Category in the 2017 My Hero International Film Festival for her documentary “No Exit: Jordan’s most vulnerable refugees”. Several of our documentaries were screened at film festivals internationally including the Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle, London’s Bertha Dochouse, Berlin’s Uranium Film Festival, Dublin’s Gaze International Film Festival, and the Chinese Visual Festival in London.

The editorial team at the Thomson Reuters Foundation has more than doubled in the past three years to about 45 staff journalists and 150 freelancers who all cover under-reported stories about women’s and LGBT rights, human trafficking and slavery, the human impact of climate change, property rights, and humanitarian crises. We don’t set out to create change but excellent journalism shedding light on little known issues is powerful as it can trigger reactions from legal changes, to corporate shifts, to funding decisions, and this can impact real lives.

Follow our stories in 2018 on, on Twitter at @alertnet, or on Facebook or Instagram – and let us know if you know of any stories that should be brought to light.