Around fifty people gathered for the Kurt Schork Memorial Foundation Awards at the Thomson Reuters building in Canary Wharf, London this Thursday. Among the guests was Stephen Jukes, dean of Bournemouth University’s Media School and Vice President of the Kurt Schork Foundation, who gave the welcome speech. Accompanying him were two final year Multi-media Journalism students – Kjetil Svendsen and Tom Tugday who filmed the event for the Kurt Schork Foundation website.
Jukes’ speech addressed the progress that has been made in journalism since the foundation was started ten years ago. He reminded all that back when Schork was reporting there was no Twitter or Facebook, and looked at the importance of such social media for foreign correspondents and war reporters working today.
The awards of the evening were allocated by a team of three judges who narrowed the list of nearly 90 journalists who had submitted entries for this year’s award, down to two winners in the categories ‘local reporter’ and ‘freelance journalist’.
This year’s $5,000 prizes were awarded to Gertrude Fadziso Pswarayi from Zimbabwe for her reports on corruption and political rape survivors, and Jerome Starkey from the UK for his war reporting from Libya and Afghanistan.
Gertrude Pswarayi works as a correspondent for the Global Press Institute, and was awarded the prize for ‘local reporter’ for her powerful story on political rape in her home country.
The judges of the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund applauded her bravery in telling the disturbing stories of raped and exploited women in Zimbabwe. They said that just when you feel that you can neither read, nor watch or listen to anything more about Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, you must come to terms with what Gertrude has told us.
Pswarayi could not be present at the awards, but the audience was shown a short statement in which she spoke of how it remains increasingly hard for women journalists to write the truth and tell real life stories that are politically inclined. She said “It is even harder to write about violent acts perpetrated against women during elections. Many of these untold stories and suffering will remain buried in shallow graves hidden deep down in their wounded hearts. These ugly memories will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Winner of the ‘freelance journalist’ category, Jerome Starkey has written war reports for both The Times and The Scotsman. One particular piece mentioned by the awards’ judges was his report describing the moment when a mine blast went off in the Helmand province in Afghanistan, claiming the life of a British soldier.
The judges said Starkey had “shown a tremendous amount of enterprise” and commended his writing for its vividness.
Vice President Stephen Jukes awarded the prize, after which Starkey gave a short speech. He expressed his honour to be named alongside the previous winners as well as fellow 2011 winner Pswarayi.
The articles of the award winners can be read at Kurt Schork Memorial Fund’s website.