KARACHI: Journalists are first-responders when it comes to humanitarian crises in Pakistan yet their hard work goes mostly unappreciated. To acknowledge good journalism conducted in the field of humanitarian reporting, the Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration (CEJ-IBA), Karachi and the International Committee of the Red Cross organized the Humanitarian Reporting Award 2017 on Friday (December 15, 2017), says a Press release.
The awards were given in three categories: mainstream broadcast (Urdu), mainstream print and online (Urdu) and mainstream print and online (English) for news stories published between November 1, 2016 to November 9, 2017.
The winners and runners-up in the three categories are as follows.
Mainstream Broadcast (Urdu): Winner: Khawar Khan, Geo News (Story: Medicines without cold chain management), Runner-up: Umar Farooq, Voice of America Urdu (Story: Sikh Bachon ka School Kis Mushkil Se Dochar Hai).
Mainstream Print & Online (Urdu): Winner: Islam Gul Afridi, Akhbar-e-Khyber (Story: KP aur FATA mein AIDS ke mareezon ki tadaad mein izafa), Runner-up: Fariha Fatima, ARY News (Story: Robinhood Army’s fight against hunger).
Mainstream Print & Online (English): Winner: Shazia Hassan, Dawn Media group (Story: Ghosts of Gadani), Runner-up: Ghulam Dastageer, Herald Magazine (Story: Walking the line in times of conflict) The ceremony kicked off with a welcome note by Director CEJ Kamal Siddiqi, who shared some details of CEJ’s collaboration with ICRC that began with Humanitarian Reporting Workshops and concluded with these awards. “We received more than 200 applications for a workshop of 20 journalists, showing the overwhelming interest in the media for humanitarian reporting,” he said, adding that CEJ and ICRC decided to conduct two workshops and hold these awards to acknowledge good journalism in humanitarian work.
Najum Abbasi, ICRC Pakistan’s Communications Coordinator, said ICRC recognizes the efforts of CEJ-IBA for its relenting efforts in making this initiative a success. “The collaboration with CEJ will continue in 2018 in an effort to continue inspiring and encouraging media to write, talk, and debate on humanitarian issues in an objective and non-partisan manner by keeping the interests of those affected by such issues at the heart of its reporting,” he said.
There were 185 submissions received for the Humanitarian Award 2017 and the winners were shortlisted by a panel of distinguished journalists – Aamer Ahmed Khan, News Director Aaj Television; Munazza Siddiqui, Executive Producer at Geo News and Iftikhar Firdous, Bureau Head of The Express Tribune in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
Firdous spoke to the audience about the casualties and importance of humanitarian reporting. “There is frustration in people when disasters or aspects of disasters are not covered properly,” he said. “Some of the most interesting stories came from Baluchistan. They were not big stories but stories on everyday struggles.” Unfortunately, they could not be selected due to weak editing and failing to meet the criteria, he added. Pleased and excited to have won an award, journalist Islam Gul Afridi talked about the difficulties in gathering data due to the stigma attached to AIDS. The security operations and sectarian issues mean they find it harder to access the medicine which proves fatal, he shared.