The Nitze School of Advanced International Studies announced last week that broadcast journalists Saira Shah, Cassian Harrison and James Miller have been awarded the 2001 SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award grand prize for their documentary Beneath the Veil. The film includes special footage provided by the Revolutionary Afghan Womenıs Association.
"This courageous and daring documentary brings the terror of the lives of Afghan women right into our living rooms," said Lynne Joiner, administrator of the prestigious SAIS-Novartis awards program, which was created in 1995 to recognize outstanding achievement in the coverage of international affairs. The corporation plays no role in the judging process.
The grand prize winners, including a representative of RAWA, will be awarded a $15,000 cash prize. Beneath the Veil was first aired by Channel Four in the United Kingdom and by CNN Presents in the United States.
All three of the top winning entries were about Afghanistan and the plight of its desperate people and were made before Sept. 11ıs terrorist attacks drew the worldıs attention to that country.
The second prize was awarded to David Finkel of The Washington Post for Invisible Journeys: The Experience of Global Migration, a series of reports that puts a human face on the global migration issue. "The series is brilliantly written with a wonderful narrative that makes the big picture plausible with its details," said juror Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of Die Zeit magazine.
Finkel begins in Afghanistan and travels alongside and in the footsteps of migrants to document the daily conditions of their lives, detail the mechanics of illegal border crossings, reveal the power of smugglers over their desperate charges and highlight the physical and emotional toll taken on the migrants who risk their lives to reach a better life.
The third prize is being given to Australian reporter Paul McGeough of Sydney Morning Herald for his riveting four-part series Afghanistan: Journey of Desperation. "These close-up, firsthand reports of people in despair are gripping and vivid," said juror Dai Hua of Shanghai Television.
The impetus for this series of gritty reports was Australiaıs decision to ignore Afghanistanıs refugee crisis and to make it as difficult as possible for refugees to land on Australian shores. McGeough vividly profiles the life of the Afghan people, the degradation of women and the atrocities of war and politics, as well as the desperate stories of people offering family members as hostages to guarantee that the exorbitant price of a relativeıs escape will be paid to the "people smugglers." His last report was published the day before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Seven other journalists from the field of 170 entries from 32 countries also will be honored during an awards ceremony April 11 in Washington, D.C. For a detailed description of the winning works, go to: http://www.journalismprize.org