Winners of 2019 Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism announced

by Dara Cormican
Tuesday, 1 October 2019 12:00 GMT

Three winners of awards that honour brave, yet often unrecognised journalists for their reporting on conflict, corruption and injustice are announced this week.

Now in their 18th 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.

Amanda Sperber, an East Africa-based foreign correspondent, wins the Freelance Award for her reporting on armed conflict and politics in Somalia. The judges highlighted how Somalia is often overlooked in global media, and that her years of reporting “in difficult and dangerous conditions” have helped to shine a light on “elusive truths”.

Cameroonian journalist Amindeh Blaise Atabong is the winner of the Local Reporter Award. Atabong’s bravery in documenting the sometimes-violent split between Cameroon’s English-and-French-speaking communities was commended, with his reporting “digging into how the conflict is playing out everywhere from Cameroon's orphanages to its wildlife reserves”.

This year’s News Fixer Award goes to Iraqi news fixer Sangar Khaleel, who has worked with journalists from major news outlets covering the rise and fall of ISIS in Iraq. The judges applauded his courage and dedication in the field. Yet what stood out to them was his “empathy and genuine care for those he meets and a strong sense of purpose in giving a voice to the victims of war”, combined with his unrelenting “dedication to follow up on people and places when most media have moved on”.

The News Fixer Award aims to recognise the rarely credited yet often at-risk individuals who typically act as the correspondent’s eyes and ears on the ground. It is the fixers’ local knowledge, as well as their network of official – and unofficial – contacts that helps to secure critical interviews and access to all important areas 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 these unsung heroes play in coverage from difficult, dangerous and hostile locations.

A shortlist in each of the first two categories was selected by judges Simon Robinson,  Reuters Global Managing Editor, The Guardian’s Julian Borger, and Dan De Luce from NBC News.

The 2019 Freelance category finalists were Sally Hayden (UK), Shola Lawal (Nigeria), Charles Matthew (UK), Ruchi Kumar (India), Kenneth Rosen (USA), Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Nigeria), Erica Gies (Canada). The Local Reporter category finalists were Disha Shetty (India), Parth Nikhil (India), Chinedu Asadu (Nigeria), Amos Abba (Nigeria), Namrata Acharya (India), Damilola Banjo (Nigeria). 

The 2019 News Fixer category finalists were Fadiel Fadel (Libya), Kamiran Sadoun (Syria) and Kateryna Malofieieva (Ukraine). The judges in this category were Jon Lee Anderson from The New Yorker, Global Editor of the Daily Mail Online Jake Wallis Simons, and journalist and author, Minka Nijhuis.

The three winners will each receive a cash prize of US $5000 to be presented at a prestigious awards ceremony hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Canary Wharf on the evening of Wednesday, 30th October.