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Radio Mashaal Reporter Wins 2012 Burke Award

Radio Mashaal correspondent Sailab Mahsud (center), interviewing IDPs in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, 27Dec2012
Radio Mashaal’s Sailab Mahsud was awarded the 2012 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for exceptional integrity, bravery, and originality in his coverage of the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan. The annual award was announced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) this year on July 18.

“The Burke awards honor people who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary talent, hard work, and -- above all -- dedication to the highest standards of journalism,” said Michael Lynton, the BBG’s presiding governor.

In his more than 40 years as a reporter, Mahsud has earned an unmatched reputation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) for delivering breaking news and providing information to a previously marginalized faction of the population.

In 2011, Mahsud was the first to report that a group of Pakistani religious scholars were attempting to mediate talks between the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban. Later that same year, when Shiite pilgrims were attacked by suicide bombers in three Afghan cities, it was Mahsud who broke the story and identified Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami as the group claiming responsibility. International news outlets all over the world picked up his reporting and named Radio Mashaal as their source.

In 1987 Mahsud helped create the Tribal Union of Journalists in the Kurram tribal district. The organization has over 270 members from the tribal areas of Pakistan, and is the only institution in FATA devoted to the welfare of journalists.

Mahsud has paid a heavy price for his honest reporting. He has been imprisoned seven times and extremist groups routinely threaten him. Yet he remains committed to providing a free and independent press.