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An Awarding Season For RFE/RL Journalists

Image from Radio Free Afghanistan's documentary, "At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt," nominated for a Lovie Award.
Image from Radio Free Afghanistan's documentary, "At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt," nominated for a Lovie Award.
UPDATE: The accolades keeps coming. On September 26, the short-list for the 2013 Association for International Broadcasting Awards (AIB) included three RFE/RL entries among the finalists.

Milos Teodorovic of RFE/RL's Balkan Service is nominated in the category of "Current Affairs Documentary/Radio" for "In The Footsteps Of Sandzak Youths Who Fight In Syria. (English transcript)" The report looks at the rebound effect of the Syrian conflict as young Serb militants go to Syria, gain experience fighting, and return to fuel militant movements in their home countries.

"The Victims of 88 (AKA 2009)," a radio series produced by Masih Alinejad of Radio Farda was named in the " Investigative Documentary/Radio" category. The series tells the story of the people who lost their lives protesting the results of the 2009 presidential election in Iran.

And Radio Free Afghanistan's "Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped In Cycle Of Debt" gets more recognition. In addition to the Lovie Award cited below, Sabawoon and Frud Bezhan's report on the blurred lines between voluntary and slave labor has been nominated for "Short Report or Documentary/TV."

The AIBs will be presented in London on November 6.


RFE/RL journalists are up for several prestigious awards this fall.

Keeping Watch Over Iran's Election

Denise Ajiri, web writer for Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian-language Service, and former RFE/RL journalists Nima Tamaddon and Michael Hirschman have been nominated for the 2013 Online Journalism Awards presented by the Online News Association (ONA) in the category of “Planned News/Events, Small.”

The team’s entry, the English-language website IranElectionWatch, explained Iranian politics and monitored developments in the months leading up to the country's June 2013 presidential elections.

Through blogs, infographics, candidate profiles, election law primers, and statistical analysis of the 10 past presidential elections, the website made the intricacies of election issues and stakeholders accessible to English-speaking audiences. Ajiri, who reports on topics censored by the Iranian government and contributes to a weekly foreign cultural program for Radio Farda, was one of three journalists under 30 selected by ONA for the 2012 MJ Bear Fellowship.

Contenders in other categories of this year’s Online Journalism Awards include the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the Boston Globe. Winners will be announced on October 19 in Atlanta.

Shining Light On Corruption in Azerbaijan

Two RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service journalists have been nominated for the Global Shining Light Award, a unique prize honoring investigative journalism done while under threat or duress in a developing or transitioning country. It is sponsored by the Global Investigative Journalist Network (GIJN).

Radio Azadliq’s Khadija Ismayilova and Nushabe Fatullayeva, in cooperation with Prague journalists Pavla Holcova and Jaromir Hason, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, revealed questionable business dealings on the part of the Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his family. In the course of tracing the ownership of a new gold and silver mine that blocks villagers’ access to land and water, they discovered sizable stakes in the project held by the first family.

The GIJN received 65 submissions from 28 countries. Director David E. Kaplan noted, “The quality of entries this year was extraordinary...(and) demonstrates that quality investigative journalism has become a global phenomenon.”

The finalists also include investigative projects from China, India, Montenegro, Pakistan, and South Africa.

Winners will be announced at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference on October 14 in Rio de Janeiro.

Profile Of An Afghan Family Trapped By Debt

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan is an “Internet Video Documentary” finalist for the Lovie Award for its report on an Afghan family forced to work in a brick factory to pay off debt.

“At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt,” produced by Sabawoon and written by Frud Bezhan, tells the story of Zabit Khan and his nine children, who are bonded laborers working to pay off family debt, much like thousands of other Afghans stuck in an unending cycle of debt and poverty.

Known locally as Radio Azadi, the service is the leading media outlet in Afghanistan today, reaching more than 60 percent of Afghans across the country with its radio, SMS, and Internet programs.

Voting is open to the public through October 10 and winners will be honored on November 13 in London.

-- Emily Thompson and Zydrone Krasauskiene