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Breaking news: Award shortlist reminds us why journalism matters

28/09/2020

On World News Day, we reveal the 12 shortlisted entrants for the #TFYoungJournalist Award, highlighting just why #JournalismMatters.

From Brazil's record year of police killings and the Peruvian children suffering from lead poisoning, to the Indian women taking their own lives and the Covid-19 lockdowns imperilling Kenya's street children - this year's Young Journalist Award shortlist has highlighted the power of journalism to save lives, build trust and spark change via an impressively diverse range of stories.

The annual Thomson Foundation award, supported by the UK's Foreign Press Association (FPA), has been searching for talent from around the world for the past eight years. Selected by the foundations judging panel, amongst 200 entries from across 55 countries, this year's 12 aspiring journalists speak up for the marginalised, expose abuses of power among the political elite and focus on social injustices - but also look to promote social cohesion and working towards a healthy civil society.

We reveal the 2020 shortlist.

Alaa Nassar, Syria Stigma is the main barrier for former women prisoners in Syria, says Syrian journalist, Alaa Nassar. Locked up and vulnerable in regime prisons, these women often become victims of mental health problems and of crimes much worse than their own as they transition to life on the outside. Alaa's report, which demands great skill and compassion, gives a voice to those affected. Elsewhere she highlights the resilience of the women of Idlib who are pushing back after years of conflict, an absence of fathers, husbands and sons - who are either missing or dead - and a breakdown of traditional societal conventions.

Rafael Soares, Brazil A license to kill? Having spent six months investigating the truth behind Rio de Janeiro's record year of police killings, played out under the state's hardline governor, Wilson Witzel, Brazilian investigative reporter, Rafael Soares, reveals that not all victims are gun-toting criminal suspects who died in confrontations with police. In his investigation, which he describes as heartbreaking, Rafael says that many cases were extrajudicial killings. In others, innocent people, including children, were wrongfully targeted or caught defenceless in the crossfire.

Dmytro Replianchyk, Ukraine In Ukraine, undercover reporter, Dmytro Replianchyk, infiltrates a troll farm in the capital, Kyiv, to give a rare insight into the manner in which fake social media accounts are used by politicians and private companies to influence unsuspecting voters. After only a short period, Dmytro was acquainted with the backstage bots in Ukrainian politics and given guidance and instructions on what issues to engage with, who to promote and who to denigrate. The posts attracted attention, credibility and support from other social media users, who could then be rallied in support of the agency's clients.

Ahmad Al Bazz, Palestine Palestinian journalist and documentary filmmaker, Ahmad Al Bazz, worked in collaboration with Israeli photojournalist, Oren Ziv, to report on an unarmed Palestinian teenager who was shot in the head by Israeli forces. As residents rushed the bleeding youngster to hospital, they were delayed by up to half an hour by Israeli police officers. Ahmed called on Oren to try to piece together information and evidence, and for help contacting Israeli authorities as part of his investigation. In another report, Ahmad interviewed Palestinian workers who were facing a Covid-19 threat at crowded checkpoints after Israeli authorities announced a military closure of the occupied West Bank.

Eman Mounir, Egypt No longer is the Red Sea a pristine location to witness the spectacle of marine life and coral reefs, reports Egyptian journalist, Eman Mounir. Continued polluting of the water and frequent oil spillage on the shores of the Red Sea, particularly in Ras Ghareb, are contributing to the threat of vital ecosystems and leading to one of the world's biggest environmental crises. Elsewhere, Eman writes about how Covid-19 has made it even easier to forget about disabled people. She highlights the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on the disabled in her country.

Kapil Kajal, India In India, investigative reporter Kapil Kajal, asks why so many Indian women are taking their own lives. Since 2001, more than 20,000 homemakers, each year, have killed themselves. In 2018, the grim statistic peaked at 22,937. The deaths have been attributed to depression and anxiety, often a result of forced marriages, infertility, domestic violence, dowry demands and the husband's infidelity. Kapil's story challenged India's mental health taboo and was republished by media outlets across the country.

Anna Myroniuk, Ukraine Ukrainian investigative reporter, Anna Myroniuk, accuses Tobacco titan, Philip Morris International (PMI), of using the Covid-19 health crisis to improve its public image and win access to politicians. Ukraine is just one country where PMI is making an aggressive pandemic PR push as part of a broader strategy to market its tobacco-heating device, IQOS, as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. Anna reveals that the tobacco company has handed out branded gifts to social media influencers , campaigned that smokers stay at home' by introducing a free delivery service, and offered philanthropic help' through donations of money, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other resources.

Timothy Otieno, Kenya As the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold across the globe, Kenyan journalist, Timothy Otieno, reports on how lockdowns imperil street children. Few groups are as vulnerable as the children who rely on the streets for food, water and shelter but coronavirus curfews and the closure of eateries and drop-in centres have made access even more precarious. They a
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