Winners of the David W. Burke Distinguished Journalism Award Announced

Two journalists who covered the war in Iraq and a Hong Kong-based broadcaster who reports on labor issues in China are the winners of the 2003 David W. Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards.

Alisha Ryu of the Voice of America (VOA), Sami Shoresh of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Han Dongfang of Radio Free Asia (RFA) won the awards, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced. The BBG oversees all U.S. international non-military broadcasting.

David W. Burke, for whom the awards are named and the first BBG chairman, said the winners reflected “the best in electronic journalism: imagination, ingenuity, persistence, daring in the face of real hardship and danger, all with a dedication to substance, cold truth and, above all, getting the story told despite the personal cost or threat.”

Ryu, who is currently reporting from Baghdad, was embedded with a U.S. Army infantry division during the war in Iraq. “Her courageous, solid and tireless radio reporting persevered no matter how bad or dangerous the conditions became,” said VOA Director David Jackson. “Whether broadcasting from an aircraft carrier or a U.S army tank under fire, she calmly delivered colorful authoritative reports from the front lines that were widely used throughout VOA.”

Accepting her award via telephone from Iraq, Ryu described Baghdad as – “hot, sunny and dangerous.”

Han Dongfang, a Mandarin broadcaster, is host of “Labor Express,” a RFA program, which frequently breaks uncovered stories about Chinese workers. Richard Richter said Han “filed dozens of reports based on his relentless pursuit of tips that he received from workers on his cell phone in Hong Kong.” He has reported on oil workers’ demonstrations in northern China; coal mine disasters and protests against low sugar prices.

“I am glad to bring the Chinese workers a voice … particularly those people who would never be heard,” Han said in accepting his award.

Sami Shoresh, a reporter for RFE/RL’s Arabic service, Radio Free Iraq, was cited by RFE/RL President Tom Dine for his “indefatigable energy, resourcefulness and courage” in covering the war in Iraq.

Dine, who called Shoresh’s reporting “the stuff of journalistic legend,” described how the broadcaster was in a convoy in northern Iraq when it was struck mistakenly by a U.S. Navy plane, killing 18. Dine said, “Having just escaped death by the narrowest of margins, he immediately gave the first foreign report of the tragedy as an eyewitness.”

Shoresh, accepting the award at RFE/RL’s headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, praised the broadcast organization for teaching journalists to conform to “the ideals of democracy, human rights and the free flow of information.”

The Burke awards are presented to U.S. international broadcasters who demonstrate exceptional performance, including bravery and extreme hardship. Their stories must enlighten and inform listeners and exhibit a commitment to the free exchange of ideas.

The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); Radio Free Asia (RFA); Radio and TV Mart