BBG Announces 2014 Burke Award Winners

At its meeting today, the Broadcasting Board of Governors announced the winners of the 2014 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards for exceptional integrity, bravery, and originality in reporting.

The 2014 winners represent each of the BBG networks and have tackled topics ranging from ethnic conflict in the Central African Republic to violence in Ukraine with reporting from some of the most dangerous locations on Earth.

“These brave men and women represent the best of U.S. international media,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “Their dedication to excellence, unrelenting determination and resolute courage exemplify the finest of what we do.  Our audiences are better off because of the substance and impact of their work.”

This years winners are:

Voice of America

  • Idriss Fall, French-to-Africa Service
  • Anne Look, VOA Central News, Dakar Bureau Chief
  • Bagassi Koura, French-to-Africa Service

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

  • Ukrainian Service, Kyiv Bureau

Office of Cuba Broadcasting

  • Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, independent journalist, Cuba

Radio Free Asia

  • Moe Thu Aung, Myanmar Service

Middle East Broadcasting Networks

  • Maitham Al-Shibani, Alhurra-Iraq
  • Omar Adnan Al-Obaidi, Alhurra-Iraq

Voice of America

Anne Look


Anne Look is the Dakar bureau chief for VOA Central News. In December, Anne and VOA stringer Heather Murdock went on a dangerous reporting trip to the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. They were there to report on how the city had rebounded from months of attacks from the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. But shortly after arriving, Boko Haram attacked the air force base in the city. A curfew was imposed just before the VOA reporters boarded a flight out. At the risk of revealing her presence, Anne filed a radio report about the attack and was the only Western journalist reporting on-the-scene.

Idriss Fall


Idriss Fall, of VOA’s French-to-Africa service, spent almost two weeks in late 2013 reporting from Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. His first-hand accounts captured how thousands were fleeing to avoid deadly clashes between Muslim and Christian factions. Idriss experienced the violence first hand, when a mob threw rocks and used machetes to attack his car. The crowd smashed through the windows of the car and attempted to pull out Idriss, his driver and fixer when French soldiers arrived, saving all from harm.

Bagassi Koura


Bagassi Koura, also of VOA’s French-to-Africa service, provided exceptional coverage of the 2013 elections in Mali. In the face of considerable dangers, Bagassi was prolific in his reporting, providing daily radio pieces, video reporting and a multimedia blog with video, photos, audio, and text recounting details of the campaign and voting.  His coverage included the peace treaty between Tuaregs and the Malian government.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

RFE/RL’s Kyiv Bureau (team coverage)


The Kyiv Bureau is recognized for team coverage of the crisis in Ukraine. The country erupted in protest following a late November 2013 decision by President Viktor Yanukovych to unexpectedly back away from an agreement with the EU.  Police violence against demonstrators and journalists led the initially peaceful protests in Ukraine to grow in size and intensity. RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Radio Svoboda’s Kyiv Bureau was live-blogging and filing dramatic video from the epicenter of the conflict, offering its audience in-depth analysis, eyewitness stories, and reactions from different sides, including pro-government supporters.

Radio Free Asia

Moe Thu Aung


Moe Thu Aung was among the first journalists RFA hired in Burma (also called Myanmar) after press freedom reforms allowed the network to open an office there. Moe Thu’s resourcefulness and dedication were invaluable in RFA’s efforts to establish its budding operations in the country. As a reporter, Moe Thu covered pivotal events from a local perspective, including armed conflicts among Burma’s ethnic groups, the elections, political reform, and President Obama’s historic 2012 visit. On Nov. 25, 2013, Moe Thu died tragically after succumbing to injuries from a traffic accident in Mandalay while on assignment for RFA. He was only 23.

Office of Cuba Broadcasting

Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina


Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina is an independent journalist and producer in Cuba who oversees a small group of video journalists. Working with limited technological resources the independent reporters travel the island and risk imprisonment to document stories focusing on health, social issues, the environment, sports, freedom of expression, and other issues that directly impact Cubans.

Middle East Broadcasting Networks

Omar Adnan Al-Obaidi

Omar Alubaidy

Despite the deep security challenges in Iraq, Omar Adnan Al-Obaidi has consistently achieved excellence in his television reporting and presented a balanced and objective picture of the events. A seasoned Alhurra-Iraq journalist, he has reported from hot spots in the Annbar province including Fallujah, Anbar’s second largest city, where Iraqi and U.S. troops have fought fierce battles against fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda.  Most recently, Omar was targeted by a sniper who shot his car while he was on his way to the Iraqi military headquarters to interview the head of the counter-terrorism unit to report on efforts in fighting terrorism.

Maitham Al-Shibani

Maitham Alshebany

Alhurra’s correspondent in the cities of Diwaniyeh and Babel in Iraq, Maitham Al-Shibani, has been a persistent and courageous reporter over the past seven years. Maitham provided comprehensive reports on the security situation in Buhairat and Jaref Al Sakher – the well-known “Triangle of Death” areas where Al-Qaeda is present.  Maitham has been embedded with Iraqi security forces when they go on raids. He also tackled poverty and government mismanagement, topics left uncovered by many local and pan-Arab media outlets.  Maitham’s unique contributions earned him recognition as the 2013 best television correspondent in Iraq from the Ayoon Association for Culture and Press.


The Board will present the awards at a ceremony later this year. The Burke Awards are named after David Burke, former chairman of the BBG, and are given by the Board annually to distinguished journalists working for U.S. international media.