Journalists and bloggers assembled in London on May 11th 2009 for the fifth annual International Media Awards ceremony, hosted by Lord Stone of Blackheath. Some were recognised for their unfaltering efforts to deliver standards of excellence and diligence; others for their work to counter the dissembling that perpetuates misunderstandings both in and of the region. The International Media Awards are distinctive in that they manage to bring together journalists from across the Middle east with their counterparts in the West, an achievement which is testament to the possibility of peaceful coexistence both with and within the regionWilliam Morris, Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation describes the objective of the awards as “a public recognition of the efforts of these editors and journalists, some of whom have put their careers and even their lives at risk through their commitment to reporting truthfully and responsibly. We hope these awards may contribute to helping raise the standards of journalism in reporting on crisis in the international arena and particularly on the Arab Israeli conflict and the wider Middle East”. This year the International Media Awards broadened their scope to recognise the achievements of bloggers who, less constrained than their colleagues in print and broadcasting, push the boundaries of reporting to new frontiers.The categories as a whole included six Peace Through Media Awards in which seasoned journalists were acknowledged for their outstanding contribution to understanding and awarded with olive trees. Award winners included:
- Dr Badrakhan Al Sindi of Al-Ta’akhi (Iraq)
- Mike Fealty editor and writer of Slugger O’Toole (Ireland)
- Paul Staines who blogs under the alias of Guido Fawkes
- Mark Urban of the BBC.
A sub category of the Peace Through Media Awards were the Lifetime Achievement Awards which were received by:
- Khalid Kashtainy of Sharq Al Awsat, a writer from Iraq who delivered a memorable and entertaining speech.
- Kamran Karadaghi of Al Hayat newspaper, also from Iraq.
A second category of Cutting Edge Awards were granted along with a £1000 cash prize in recognition of high standards of analysis and reporting to break down barriers and promote understanding. Winners within this category included:
- Oren Yakobovich of B’Tselem’s “Shooting Back” programme (Israel) who showed some harrowing footage of abuse of Palestinians by settlers in the West Bank
- Shlomo Eldar of Israeli Channel 10 who has widely been called ‘the man who ended the war’, both of whom William Morris (Secretary General of the NCF) described as ‘The conscience of Israel’.
Further prizes were awarded to:
- Potkin Azarmehr for his Blog that advocates a secular democratic Iran.
And a special ‘Breakaway Award’ for a promising new broadcaster went to:
- Abdulrahman Abdulla of Al Sharqiya Satellite TV.
Another ‘Cutting Edge’ award went to Saudi Arabian journalist:
- Faisal Abbas of Sharq al Awsat who is also a contributing blogger to the Huffington Post.
An award also went to a Lebanese journalist:
- Jaafar al Ahmar of Al Hayat for his outstanding work.
With much regret, and for a second year running, several award winners were unable to attend and receive their awards due to border closures. Four winners, all of whom were based in Gaza, recieved accolades for their work and their awards will be held for next year in the hope that they will be able to gain permission to leave the strip. The International Council for Press and Broadcasting was established by the Next Century Foundation in 2007. It incorporates the International Media Council (founded in 2000) of the Next Century Foundation and the International Institute for Media Ethics (founded 2005). It has worked in cooperation with the International Communications Forum, the St Brides Forum, and City University.