Freelance courage recognised in Rory Peck Awards

Freelance Zimbabwean cameraman Mike Saburi was awarded the Martin Adler Prize at the annual Rory Peck awards last night for his coverage of a dangerous regime where journalists have been targeted with surveillance, threats and attacks.

The prize, in memory of Swedish freelance journalist and cameraman Martin Adler who was murdered while filming in Somalia in 2006, celebrates the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in newsgathering.

Saburi, awarded the prize for his ‘commitment to telling the story he lives each day”, covered the presidential election, providing material for agencies and international broadcasters.

Saburi said: ‘Zimbabwe’s media space has become increasingly small and the daily dangers of working in the country are worsened when you leave the relative safety of the capital to cover news in the countryside. With all the election candidates campaigning outside Harare, I have always had to watch over my shoulder for any possible dangers.”

Korea’s Jung In Taek and Han Yong Ho won the Impact Award, which honours the ‘integrity of freelance cameramen and women in capturing humanitarian imagery that has had an impact internationally and led to a change in perception or policy”.

The award was presented for Korea: Out of the North, a first person account of the risks that North Korean refugees take in order to escape the country.

The documentary was filmed at night in sub zero temperatures and both journalists spent ten months filming the refugees, risking arrest and punishment.

Tina Carr, director of The Rory Peck Trust, said: ‘Without the physical and political courage that Jung In Taek and Han Yong Ho displayed in undertaking this project, this compelling story of human endeavour – of people in search of freedom to pursue a better life – would never have been seen by the wider public.”

The story was broadcast across the BBC news network.

‘This had everything – they bravely went undercover, used great journalism skills to capture the full story and delivered a high quality piece with impressive shots,’said Gulmira Mamedova, correspondent for TV Zvezda Russia, who was one of the judges.

Tim Hetherington was awarded the features prize for The Other War, an eyewitness account for ABC Nightline which documented the struggles of soldiers from the Second Platoon of the 173rd Airborne fighting in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.

Footage included the US bombing of civilian areas and attempts by the soldiers to make peace with village elders in Taliban-controlled areas.

Hetherington broke his ankle during a Taliban ambush during ‘Operation Rock Avalanche’ which resulted in the death of three soldiers, and had to continue walking down the mountain for four hours before reaching shelter..

The judges, which include head of news and current affairs for Channel 4 Television Dorothy Byrne, described the film as ‘extraordinary”. One said: “I haven’t seen US soldiers portrayed so clearly as vulnerable human beings. The piece completely changes your view of them.”

Abdullahi Farah Duguf’s Two weeks in Mogadishu for ITN and Channel 4 news was awarded the news award. The documentary showed scenes of violence and destruction as an insurgency erupted in the Somalian capital, with Duguf becoming a target himself.

Farah said: ‘During this filming assignment I received a lot of threats and intimidations as have other journalists but never in the past 17 years have conditions been so insecure, dangerous and chaotic.”

Other finalists for the 2008 News Award included Clifford Derrick for Kibera Slum and Subina Shrestha for Down the Irrawaddy Delta.

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