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Migration Reporting: Journalism Awards and the Winners


Full Migration Guide here.

There’s a growing number of international and national journalism contests on migration, including a new US one with a whopping $100,000 prize.

The work of recent winners provides a rich source of inspirational stories on the topic.

The George Polk Immigration Reporting Award is sponsored by Long Island University. Entrants do not have to be American, but all entries must be in English. The award in 2017 was shared:

The Migration Media Award is an EU-sponsored annual contest. Winners get a contract to produce a new story, which is also displayed on their website. For example:

  • follow-up report by Giacomo Zandonini in Republica, November 30, 2017, delved into the stories of Bengali refugees in Italy and followed his award winning article: “The Long Wait of Young Unaccompanied Minors in Italy.”
  • Borders, People Smuggling Across the Balkans, by Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis for Deutsche Welle, describes how refugees continue to cross the Balkan route into Europe with smugglers showing the way.

All the winning articles and periodic follow-ups are posted on the Migration Media Award website.

The Immigration Journalism Award, sponsored by the French-American Foundation, gives awards to articles in French and English. The recent winners:

  • “Terre de réfugiés,” by Emmanuel Haddad (text) and Adrienne Surprenant (images), published in the March 2017 issue of Sept, described how Somalis, Ethiopians and Yemenis were stranded in Somaliland.  “This Man Will Almost Certainly Die,” a report by Seth Freed Wessler on the deaths of immigrants in US prisons, was published in The Nation, and was the winner of English language prize.
  • “Last Resting Place,” by Sana Sbouai, a report about the deaths of undocumented refugees traveling to France, was the winner of the 2017 Migration Media Award, Second Place Online Category, French (Arabic). It was published on February 10, 2017, in As-Safir Newspaper, Lebanon.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) holds a global media competition on labor migration. The 2017 winners were chosen from more than 350 entries from 73 countries around the world.

In the labor migration category, the winners were:

In the “fair recruitment” category, the winners were:

One World Media Awards includes a Refugee Reporting Award among its other 14 categories on the overall theme of coverage of the developing world. “Exodus: Our Journey To Europe,” by KEO Films for BBC Two was the 2017 winner. It focuses on refugees from Syria and includes footage from cameraphones give to people attempting to reach Europe.

The Global Migration Film Festival was launched by the UN Migration Agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to feature “new films that capture the promise and challenges of migration for those who leave their homes in search of a better life and the unique contributions migrants make to their new communities.” In the most recent contest:

    • The top award in the professional category went to independent filmmaker Matthew Cassel for “The Journey,” a six-part documentary that followed a Syrian family separated by the war and their migration journey toward reunion in Europe.
    • In the emerging artists category, an IOM film award went to Amina Rwimo, the Congolese filmmaker for “It Has Killed My Mother.”

The South American Journalism Award on Migration was created in October of 2017 by the IOM Regional Office for South America “to recognize and encourage the work of journalists in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, whose journalistic pieces on migration include a human rights-based approach and a gender perspective.” The 10 winners are listed here.

In Bangladesh, the NGO BRAC gives annual awards for migration reporting.  See the 10 2017 winners here (English) and the 2018  contest announcement (Bangla). The 2017 print winner was Belal Hossen Biplob, The Daily Star, whose web page shows his many articles on migration issues.

Suitcase 2017 for journalistic excellence in Armenia is sponsored by Support for Migration and Border Management in Armenia. First place went to Suren Deheryan, Astghik Gevorgyan and Gagik Aghbalyan of for “Migration in Armenia,” a detailed look at why migration in Armenia has lost its momentum and why Armenians leave.

The Communication Award for Cultural Diversity (Prémio Comunicação Pela Diversidade Cultural) is sponsored by The High Commission for Migration in Portugal. The Written Press Award was awarded for:

      • Juventude em Jogo, by Sofia da Palma Rodrigues and Diogo Cardoso, published in the newspaper Público and in the multimedia publication Divergente. The article discusses how Portugal is the main gateway to Europe for smaller football players from Africa and South America.
      •  Returned to Cape Verde by Catarina Gomes, Vera Moutinho and Rui Gaudêncio, published in Jornal Público, describes deportations from Portugal.

The New America Award from the Society for Professional Journalism in the US “honors public service journalism that explores and exposes an issue of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities currently living in the United States.”

The Eugene Katz Award For Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration was inaugurated in 1997 by the Center for Immigration Studies, an advocacy group based in Washington. The 2017 winners were Kevin Rothstein and Mike Beaudet, of WCVB-TV in Boston, “for the many major immigration stories they have broken … often resulting in changes in state and federal policies.”

The American Mosaic Journalism Prize, with a prize of $100,000, was awarded for the first time in early 2018 to Jaeah Lee, an independent journalist and a 2017 senior fellow at Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and Valeria Fernández, now a freelancer who has been reporting on Arizona’s immigrant community and the immigration debate for over 15 years. The prize was created by the Heising-Simons Foundation, a family-run charity in Silicon Valley.

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in journalism, while not specifically focused on particular topics, in 2018 gave an award to “Exodus.” The documentary tells the harrowing, personal stories of refugees and migrants as they fled countries besieged by violence and poverty. It was directed and produced by James Bluemel for PBS Frontline in the US.

The European Press Prize, also not specifically for migration stories, recognized several as 2018 winners:

    • 500 Years Later the Habibs are Looking for a House in Portugal, by Catarinia Goms in Público, describes the journey of several Turkish Sephardic Jews — focusing on the the Habib family — who are trying to find a safe haven in Portugal, 500 years after the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal.
    • “The Human Captor,” by Michael Obert in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, describes the dubious warlord Al-Bija, who styles himself as rescuer of refugees and reliable partner of the EU in the quest of stopping African refugees from crossing the Mediterranean.
    • “The Smuggling Game,” by Lin Taylor and Valeria Cardi, published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation News, describes the global business of people smuggling.

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