The Nitze School of Advanced International Studies announced April 6 that a freelance South Korean video journalist, Jung-Eun Kim, and a veteran Australian journalist, Peter Charley, have been awarded the 2000 SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award and $15,000 for their video report "On Life's Border: The North Korean Refugees."
Over a period of 12 months, Kim secretly documented with a tiny digital camera the plight of starving North Korea refugees hiding out in northeast China. In a desperate struggle for survival, the fugitive family was forced to give away its three children. "This is very gripping reporting about a situation that has been reported quite a number of times," said juror Don Oberdorfer, former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post and journalist-in-residence at SAIS, "but it brought it into a human dimension in such a very powerful way that a print report is impossible to do. It is unique." The piece was produced for Australia's SBS-TV Network program Dateline.
The competition involved more than 230 entries from 38 countries. "It was very tough for our jury to pick just 10 finalists," commented Stephen F. Szabo, interim dean of SAIS.
Second prize went to Wall Street Journal correspondent Ian Johnson for "A Death in China: The Politics of Repression," a series that focuses on the events surrounding the torture and death of a Falun Gong practitioner and illustrates the challenges of modernizing China. Juror Maria Ressa, CNN's Jakarta bureau chief, noted, "It shows how one courageous reporter at risk, because he's passionate about the story, uses his organization's resources to stay on the story and give us greater insight about an important chapter in the unfolding saga of political developments in China."
French freelancer Anne Nivat took third place for "A Dirty War in Chechnya," a series of reports sent via satellite phone to La Liberation Daily and U.S. News and World Report during six months in the war zone. "This is a good piece of courageous journalism that is timely and provides great insight," said juror Sunday Dare, a Nigerian magazine editor. "This rookie freelance reporter captured important stages of a crucial civil conflict despite personal danger."
The other top 10 finalists who will receive awards at a banquet on April 19 at the National Press Club are Roger Cohen, for his New York Times series "Crossing Borders"; Barton Gellman, for his Washington Post report "Death Watch: AIDS in Africa"; Yovo Nokolov, for his investigative report "The Highways of Violence," published in The Capital Weekly; Tim Johnson of The Miami Herald for "Colombia"; Sebastian Junger and Teun Voeten for their Vanity Fair reports "The Terror of Sierra Leone and the Terror Recorded"; Giselle Portenier and Edward Stourton for their BBC documentary "Israel Accused"; and Petra Prochazkova and Jaromir Stetina for their Czech-TV documentary on the Chechen conflict, "Dark Side of the World."
A public forum, "The Inside Story on Award-Winning Journalism," will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in Kenney Auditorium, first floor of the school's Nitze Building. Featured panelists are grand-prize winners Kim and Charley, Nivat, Gellman, Junger, Nikolov and Stetina.
In addition, "The War in Chechnya" will be screened on Wednesday, April 18, at 2:30 p.m., in the SAIS Rome Auditorium. At noon on Friday, April 20, SAIS and the Australian Embassy will screen the grand-prize documentary, "On Life's Border," at the Australian Embassy in Washington.