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Columbia Announces Second Annual Kurt Schork Awards Highlighting Overseas Reporting

By Caroline Ladhani

Elizabeth Rubin

Columbia University has announced the winners of the Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism. The awards honor the freelance reporter killed in a military ambush while on assignment for Reuters in May 2000. They recognize exceptional reporting that sheds new light on controversial issues, including conflicts, human-rights concerns or cross-border issues in a particular country or region.

An international panel of judges each year selects a freelance journalist of any nationality covering international news, and a local reporter in a developing country or nation in transition.

This year's winners, with juror comments, follow.

  • Elizabeth Rubin, freelance reporter, possesses the ability to tell a compelling and moving story while enlightening readers about the larger issues. Her impressive body of work for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and The New Republic is distinguished by the courage and depth of her reporting in some of the world's most dangerous and misunderstood regions and the ability to explain a completely different mindset in a non-judgmental and insightful manner, whether it is following the career of a Hamas activist and bombmaker or the origins of the Islamic groups in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
  • Asha Krishnakumar

  • Asha Krishnakumar (Chennai, India) is recognized for her thorough, compassionate and determined reporting for Frontline, the socio-political bi-weekly magazine published in India, revealing the shameful abuses suffered by the most vulnerable people in society, children, and bringing their voices to life. Her coverage of the large-scale prevalence of child bondage in the silk-weaving industry, the distress among handloom weavers in Tamil Nadu and the constructive ways in which they can be helped, and the medical malpractice evidenced in kidney commerce led to reforms by the Tamil Nadu Government.

"The Graduate School of Journalism is honored to present the Kurt Schork Awards to these outstanding journalists," said David Klatell, acting dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. "Their work, done in the face of many difficult obstacles, exemplifies the spirit of enterprise and commitment to public service that characterized Mr. Schork's career. We hope that these women will continue to produce first-rate, illuminating journalism, and that others throughout the world will be inspired to follow their example and the path blazed by Kurt Schork."

Elizabeth Rubin, who is currently working in Baghdad, has filed stories from many of the world's hot spots, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the West Bank, Chechnya and Russia, Kosovo and Bosnia. In addition to the aforementioned publications, her articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal Europe, U.S. News & World Report and The Forward. A resident of New York City, Rubin has a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and also holds a M.Phil in Renaissance Literature and History from Oxford University.

Since joining Frontline in 1991, Asha Krishnakumar has written more than 400 articles covering human rights, deprivation, women, health, medicine, the environment and education. Her approach to journalism has been marked by seriousness and precision, attempting to go beneath the surface and, above all, remaining sensitive to the condition, needs and aspiration of the marginalized and vulnerable people. Krishnakumar received her bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from Stella Maris Madras University and a doctorate in economics from M.I.D.S. Madras University. Married with two children, she lives in Chennai, India.

Andrew Meldrum

Four other entries received Honorable Mentions. Jurors' comments follow.

  • Andrew Meldrum, freelance journalist
    Meldrum's powerful and courageous reporting from Zimbabwe for The Guardian, under extremely adverse conditions including his arrest and trial, provided readers with first-class, balanced, cutting-edge coverage on such crucial subjects as the suppression of the opposition in Zimbabwe and the deepening famine.
  • Sabrina Tavernise, freelance journalist
    Tavernise is recognized for her depth and human insight in covering Russia for The New York Times. A gifted storyteller with a lyrical writing style, Tavernise displays enormous sensitivity and keen observation that enrich our understanding of today's Russia.
  • Sabrina Tavernise

  • Massoud Ansari, local journalist (Pakistan)
    Ansari's determined reporting for Newsline covering the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl and a profile of Sheikh Omar Saeed, the chief architect of the crime, draws on important local sources to enlighten readers with a fresh perspective.
  • Adrian Liviu Avram, local journalist (Romania)
    Avram's resourceful pursuit of governmental corruption for Adevarul exemplifies determined reporting in the best investigative tradition despite personal risks and restrictive governments.

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism administers the Kurt Schork Awards, which are underwritten by the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund and Reuters. Kurt Schork was best known for his hard-hitting reports from Bosnia during the siege of Sarajevo. He was also known for his appreciation of and respect for the local journalists who worked beside him.

Massoud Ansari

"In the best examples of the Kurt Schork tradition, the winners exemplified exceptional news reporting that sheds new light on controversial issues, displaying courage and determination in pursuing difficult stories with a great deal of compassion," said Irena Choi Stern, administrator of the awards at the Graduate School of Journalism.

The panel of five judges included: Julian Borger, The Guardian; Michael Elliott, editor at large, Time Magazine; Josh Friedman, director, International Program, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Phil Revzin, vice president, International, Dow Jones and publisher, Far Eastern Economic Review; and Alison Smale, deputy foreign editor, The New York Times.

Adrian L. Avram

The 2003 winners will be honored at an awards ceremony to take place at the Graduate School of Journalism on Tuesday, October 28, 2003.

Published: Jul 31, 2003
Last modified: Jul 31, 2003


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