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Championing burgeoning talent in a year we will never forget


Announcing the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award finalists #TFYoungJournalist

If we don't come, hunger kills us, says a Venezuelan merchant as he opens up his stall in a busy wholesale market in Piura, in the northern region of Peru. He's not alone. Many of the vendors here have had to break lockdown to work and survive.

Bustling, cramped and stacked high with produce, the popular market is a mainstay of the local economy, but as Peruvian journalist Mart n Leandro Camacho reveals, it's also where some of the provincial town's most brutal Covid-19 numbers now exist.

In a year we will never forget, it's unsurprising that our three Young Journalist Award finalists all have a coronavirus story to tell.

On board an unseaworthy boat, crowded with large groups of desperate passengers, investigative reporter, Kabir Adejumo, exposes the unscrupulous border guards receiving bribes to help people cross between Nigeria and Benin Republic, despite border closures to contain the spread of the virus.

In Ukraine, journalist Anna Myroniuk calls out tobacco giant Philip Morris International of staging an aggressive PR stunt and using the health crisis as a commercial opportunity to promote its tobacco-heating devices. In her article for Kyiv Post, she says the tobacco manufacturer can play no role in public health because so many people die from smoking-related illnesses every year.

In other news While the pandemic has overwhelmed the news cycle and dominated headlines around the world, our Young Journalist finalists offer comprehensive coverage of stories beyond Covid-19.

In one piece, Anna covers attempts of the Kremlin-backed Donetsk People's Republic to assert its claim to statehood and international legal recognition. She also tells the story of Ukrainians forced out of Crimea by Russian settlers in a two-part series titled, Losing our Land'.

Kabir examines how Nigerian police - capitalising on regulatory failures - support illegal gold mining in south-west Nigeria, and how families of Nigerian soldiers killed in battles with militant group, Boko Haram, are neglected by the government.

The Invisible Have Lead in their Blood is another powerful story in Mart n's portfolio where he reports from Cerro de Pasco, dubbed the Mining Capital of Peru and also its most polluted city. He writes about the children suffering illnesses related to metals in their blood. Elsewhere, he reports on the environmental impact of the mining and drilling for oil.

This year was exceptional because of Covid-19 and its effects on communities worldwide, says the foundation's chief executive, Nigel Baker. For the first time, it provided a common theme across entries, with a stark reminder of how the pandemic has upset normal life in so many different ways across the world.

Along with those pieces was a strong mix of other investigative stories with young reporters asking serious questions about corruption and maladministration as well as exposing regulatory and government failures.

Young Journalist Award explained The Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, now in its eighth year, is one of the highlights of the UK's Foreign Press Association (FPA) Awards and this year attracted almost 200 entries spanning four continents.

The award invites journalists aged 30 or under from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than $20,000, to enter three pieces of work for scrutiny by the foundation and then independent judges selected by the FPA.

This year, head judge Sabrina Provenzani of Italian newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, met virtually with Aditi Khanna, the London correspondent of the Press Trust of India and Anna Senkara, television journalist for TVN Poland, to select three finalists out of a shortlist of 12 chosen by the foundation.

Mart n's very human and humane approach to storytelling was a driving point of the jury's conversation: He brings to life some very local stories that have a stark global resonance - all from a small, self-financed magazine in a peripheral region of Peru.

Anna crafted very impactful forensic reporting amid constraints in Ukraine, the jury citation also mentioned. Her style of presentation is particularly grabbing. She has enormous potential for a fearless young journalist.

Meanwhile, Kabir's sheer grit and determination when reporting on very tough subjects and at great personal risk, was praised by the judges. He embodies what good journalism should stand for at a time when freedom of speech and expression are so much under threat around the world.

The jury also awarded a series of commendations for excellent pieces, featuring a strong sense of commitment and service to humanity, to the other journalists on the shortlist:

Alaa Nassar, Syria Rafael Soares, Brazil Dymtro Replianchyk, Ukraine Ahmad Al Bazz, Palestine Eman Mounir, Egypt Ibrahim Adeyemi, Nigeria Kapil Kajal, India Timothy Otieno, Kenya Taiwan Adebayo, Nigeria

What happens next? This year's Young Journalist Award will be staged differently, owing to the difficulties of holding the traditional FPA Awards ceremony in London during the pandemic, of which the Young Journalist category remains an essential part. On Monday 23rd November, 2020 (at 7pm UK time), the winner of the Young Journalist Award will be revealed online.

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition and to all our judges for the time and energy they have given to this year's award. Congratulations also to our finalists and our shortlist. We wish them all the best through the challenges of 2020 and hope that this time next year the industry will be more sure-footed once again, having adapted and navigated through the worst of the pandemic.

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