Burke Award Winners 2011


Tarek El Shamy, Akram Khuzam, Muslim Khandil and Nayef Mashakba, Alhurra TV, Middle East Broadcasting Network

El Shamy, Khuzam, Khandil and Mashakba provided outstanding coverage of the Egyptian Revolution in late January and February 2011. These courageous journalists reported around-the-clock from Cairo and Alexandria, providing live and non-stop coverage of the revolution for its 18-day duration. In one incident on February 2, 2011, El Shamy and Khuzam were reporting from the network’s offices in Cairo when crowds broke into their building and tried to get into the facility. Despite the threat and violence, El Shamy and Khuzam stayed on the air to continue Alhurra’s coverage. As a result, Alhurra was the only television network broadcasting live from Egypt for several hours during the evening of February 2.

Creole Service, Voice of America

VOA’s Creole Service provided unmatched coverage of the devastating Haitian earthquake.  In the hours after the disaster, the service surged their programming by 900%, set up a hotline and created Facebook and Twitter accounts to help families in the United States locate their relatives in Haiti. VOA’s news coverage played a public service role. On one occasion, after camp residents complained of lack of food during the call-in show, an NGO brought a truckload of food. Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Louis Harold Joseph, thanked the service for its role in the aftermath of the earthquake and called its broadcasts over the years a “breath of fresh air for us.”

Belarus Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Belarus Service’s 20 journalists and producers provided breaking news and in-depth analysis of Belarus’ disputed presidential election in December 2010. The service, called Radio Svaboda, integrated radio, television and web coverage to provide accurate and comprehensive information at a time when a voice of credibility was desperately needed. The day after the crackdown, Radio Svaboda’s website traffic recorded a 5-fold increase and its Youtube page views increased by 300%.  Its coverage was widely quoted by major news media, including CNN, BBC and the New York Times. Svaboda also created “Voices of Solidarity,” a project that invited dozens of U.S. and international leaders to read the names of the more than 700 people detained in the crackdown.

Cantonese Service, Radio Free Asia

Reporters in Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong from RFA’s Cantonese Service were recognized for groundbreaking coverage of a radiation leak and the Chinese Government’s attempt to cover up the information. In May 2010, four accidents occurred at China’s Shenzhen Daya Bay Nuclear Plant, including the most serious radiation leak in the nuclear plant’s history. RFA’s Cantonese Service obtained a document revealing details of the nuclear leakage and provided comprehensive breaking news coverage that was picked up by major media organizations, including the New York Times and Bloomberg News. After the publication of the story, environmentalists and local politicians called for an investigation and a better system for accountability.

José Luis Ramos, Radio Martí

José Luis Ramos earned the award for dedicated reporting of the funeral of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. On February 23, 2010, 42-year-old Tamayo died from starvation after more than 80 days of a hunger strike to protest the prison conditions and his beatings by cell guards. Official Cuban media did not report the story and the Cubans on the island followed the news through Radio Martí. Mr. Ramos arranged exclusive live coverage of  Tamayo’s funeral through cell phone communication between the Radio Martí Studio and Tamayo’s home in Banes. The moving live coverage included Tamayo’s mother crying the words of freedom over Radio Martí.

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