Courageous reporting on the Mugabe regime's brutal practices in Zimbabwe and a journalist's investigation into government corruption in Romania , have won the 2004 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism, Columbia University has announced. The awards, given in honor of the freelance reporter killed in a military ambush while on assignment for Reuters in May 2000, recognize reporting that sheds new light on controversial issues, including conflicts, human rights concerns or cross-border issues in a particular country or region.
This year's winners are Andrew Meldrum, freelance reporter for The Guardian, and Liviu Avram, investigative reporter for Romanian newspaper Adevarul.
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. Three other entries received Honorable Mentions: James Brabazon, freelance journalist, The Guardian/The Scotsman, for his reports on the war in Liberia; Massoud Ansari, Newsline Magazine (Pakistan), for coverage of corrupt governmental practices in Pakistan; and Qiyan Li, Xiaojian Zhao, Shuli Hu, Yi Lou and Haili Cao, Caijing Magazine (China), for coverage of SARS in China.
"The Graduate School of Journalism is proud to honor the courage and commitment to the high standards of journalism of this year's Kurt Schork Award winners," said Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. "Their bravery and dedication, often in the face of great personal risk, are a fitting monument to Kurt Schork's career."
Juror comments for winning entries follow.
· Andrew Meldrum, freelance reporter for The Guardian
"Meldrum contributed reports from Zimbabwe that exemplify the old adage -- no less true for being a cliché -- that journalism is the first draft of history. In the case of his reporting from Zimbabwe , second draft might be true as well. For what we know about the brutality of the Mugabe regime, and about the suffering of the Zimbabwean people, we know in very large measure from Meldrum's extraordinary reporting. It is work that instructs both politically and humanly by a reporter of remarkable courage, commitment and lucidity."
· Liviu Avram, journalist for Adevarul ( Romania )
"Avram is a Romanian newspaperman whose work represents the best tradition of muckraking. Last year, he received an honorable mention for investigating local corruption. This year, he wins the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism for digging out the sordid tale of nepotism by Romania's European Integration Minister, who used her influence to divert EU contracts to businesses run by her son, husband and relatives in Germany. Avram's relentless digging led to the Minister's resignation."
Juror comments for Honorable Mentions follow.
· James Brabazon , freelance journalist, The Guardian/The Scotsman
"Traveling with rebels in war-torn Liberia, Brabazon captures the random cruelty and desperation of a conflict peopled by teenage warriors. Hysteria and chaos accompany the killing as the rebels close in on the capital, Monrovia, in the days before the fall of strongman Charles Taylor. Brabazon evokes all the horror of a failed African state where life is cheap. In a factory converted into a hospital, he finds the 'familiar smell of stale beer, mixed with a sharp smell of ammonia, from those soldiers who have wet themselves.' "
· Massoud Ansari , local journalist, Newsline Magazine (Pakistan)
"Ansari's extraordinarily courageous and thorough string of stories deal head on with the sheer cruelty of corruption in a government bureaucratic system that punishes children and the elderly for their weakness. It is campaigning journalism of the best sort -- compassion combined with a cold, clear eye for the facts and the way a dysfunctional society operates. Judges further noted the bravery involved in that level of work where violent retribution is common."
· Qiyan Li, Xiaojian Zhao, Shuli Hu, Yi Lou and Haili Cao, local journalists, Caijing Magazine ( China )
"This team has produced a remarkably comprehensive, timely summary of one of China 's and the world's biggest stories last year, the outbreak, cover-up, and eventual taming of SARS, which had dramatic worldwide economic and political impact. Combining some news-breaking reporting with courageous, insightful analysis and dogged follow-up, the team presented what is truly a 'first draft' of history that will serve as the definitive account for years to come. As China continues its remarkable economic development, journalism of this sort will prove vital, and is only to be encouraged."
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.
The panel of five judges included: Julian Borger, The Guardian; Roger Cohen, international writer-at-large, The New York Times and columnist, International Herald Tribune; Josh Friedman, director, International Program, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; David Rieff, author and freelance journalist for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and many other publications; and Phil Revzin, vice president, International, Dow Jones and publisher, Far Eastern Economic Review.
Members of the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund Advisory Board are Sabina Cosic (chair), investment officer, International Finance Corporation; Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent, CNN; John Burns, reporter, The New York Times; Tom Goldstein, former dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; Richard C. Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Stephen Jukes, former global head of news, Reuters; John Kifner, The New York Times; Anthony Loyd, author and journalist, John Owen, adviser, Dart Centre Europe and former news executive, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Samantha Power, 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner and Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; Chris Schork and John Schork, brothers of Kurt Schork; and Richard Tait, director, Cardiff University's Centre for Journalism Studies (UK).
The 2004 winners will be honored at an awards ceremony to take place at the Graduate School of Journalism on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004.