2010 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award Winners Announced

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) today announced the winners of the 2010 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award. Named for former BBG Chairman David Burke, the award recognizes courage, integrity and originality in reporting by journalists within the BBG broadcast organizations.

This year’s winners are: Sok Pov from the Voice of America’s (VOA) Khmer service, Rahman Bunairee from VOA’s Deewa Radio, Elena Rodriguez from the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Jin-Seo Lee from Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Korean Service, Laura Juan Huang from RFA’s Mandarin Service, Mohamed Mokhtari and Betty Ayoub from the Middle East Broadcasting Network’s (MBN) Alhurra TV, Dawa Khan Meenapal from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Radio Free Afghanistan and Ashyrkuli Bayriev from RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service.

VOA’s Sok Pov filed a series of reports profiling the former Khmer Rouge leaders who could face arrest if the tribunal widens its prosecution. He traveled to the jungles of northern Cambodia, where many have sought refuge and got exclusive interviews with five of them.

“This series of reports embodies the best principles of journalism: the search for accountability and questioning power,” said BBG Governor Blanquita Cullum.

Rahman Bunairee reported on the deadly struggle between Pakistani troops and militants in the FATA and NWFP regions of Pakistan for VOA’s Deewa Service.

In July of 2009, militants apparently took exception to Bunairee’s reporting and bombed his family’s home in the Pakistani district of Buner.

“After hiding in Karachi and then Islamabad, Mr. Bunairee headed to the United States for a one-year appointment to VOA headquarters,” said Cullum. “[Bunairee] continues his reporting on the situation in Pakistan border region from the United States.”

The Board recognized Elena Rodriguez of Radio Marti for her leadership, creativity and effectiveness in evaluating and implementing new ideas.

“One of the greatest contributions has been to follow the emerging Cuban blogosphere,” said BBG Governor Joaquin Blaya.

Jin-Seo Lee created a three-part investigative series for RFA in late 2009 on thousands of North Korean street children who have been abandoned or separated from their parents.

“His investigative series was done at considerable risk inside China,” said BBG Governor Cullum. “In preparing his report, he took great care not to attract police attention.”

RFA’s Laura Juan Huang’s reporting skills resulted in “Guardian of the River Huai,” which documented an environmentalist’s struggle to stem the environmental impact of China’s rapid development has had on the river and the people who live near it.

“Huang’s persistence in reaching a wide range of sources, including both ordinary people and officials in order to highlight this tragic situation, demonstrates her courage and integrity as a journalist,” said Cullum.

Mohamed Mokhtari and Betty Ayoub played vital roles in the successful second season of Alhurra TV’s outstanding documentary series Americans, starting with five episodes about Arab Americans.

“Traveling through the United States searching for extraordinary people and stories, they left no stone unturned to give viewers and in-depth look into immigration and integration into American society,” said BGG Governor Joaquin Blaya.

Dawa Khan Meenapal is RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan’s correspondent in Kandahar, one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Due to constant pressure from the warring factions, many media outlets have stopped reporting from Kandahar.

“He has shown tremendous bravery working under constant pressure both from the militants and government security forces,” said BBG Governor Jeffrey Hirschberg. “His objective reporting has earned him respect from across the political spectrum.”

Despite constant surveillance and the threat of detainment, RFE/RL’s Ashyrkuli Bayriev enjoys reporting about ordinary people’s daily lives so that the voices of the Turkmen people are heard. He is under constant surveillance and has been detained for his efforts.

“The local authorities often summon him as an intimidation tactic in an effort to silence his reporting,” said Hirschberg. “But Bayriev does not remain silent.”

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Mart