I’ve worked at One World Media this summer as a communications assistant through my university’s abroad work program. I’ve met and gotten to know One World Media’s six-member team. Every day, I am more impressed and humbled by these women leaders as they continue to reach new heights of success with this small, but strong, non-profit organisation.
My role at One World Media was to help the Digital Communications Officer prepare and promote the upcoming One World Media Awards 2019, which honours phenomenal journalism and journalists from all around the world. This event would be the culmination of the short period of time I’d work at One World Media. Throughout the weeks leading up to the awards, I learned a great deal about the judges, nominees, and their work. By the time the day of the awards ceremony arrived, I knew each of the journalists and their work like the back of my hand.
To say I was excited for the ceremony would be an understatement. I was in awe of the list of attendees. Renowned international journalists and filmmakers would be present, some of whose work I’d been following for years.
It was Monday June 17, 2019: the date of the 2019 One World Media Awards. I arrived at BAFTA hours before the ceremony began, to help out with final prep work. The walls of the theatre are high and the rooms are spacious. Quotes from prominent figures in media cover the walls. I organised name tags and set up the check-in system.
I was to live-tweet the event that evening; announcing the categories, nominees and winners for each of our awards. As dusk settled and the guests started arriving and filling up the reception area, I snapped photos in attempt to capture the buzz of the atmosphere. The room bustled with the mingling of media luminaries sharing food, drinks and conversation. The air was thick with excitement.
The theatre in which the ceremony took place was full to bursting. Its red velvet seats, grandiose stage and huge video screen added to the already palpable feeling of empowerment and camaraderie among the journalists and filmmakers in the room.
And then, the show began. The lighting, music and sound came together effortlessly to create an incredible viewer experience. With each snippet of the nominees’ work, the attendees were so captivated that their reactions were both audible and visible. When a clip of ‘Riding ‘The Death Train’ to America’ played during the nominee reel for the Short Film Award, the audience gave a collective gasp at the footage of a migrant mother chasing after a train her baby was on. A moment of comic relief occurred when the oddity of a title in the Environmental Reporting Award Category (‘Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants’ from Rachel Nuwer at National Geographic) made the audience chuckle. A clip of the Radio and Audio Award nominee ‘The Number One Ladies’ Landmine Agency’ story elicited nods of support from the audience before the video even ended.
The final award of the night, the Special Award, was given to Radio Fresh for its brave reporting on the plight of the Syrian people; informing them of events, exposing corruption and warning them of potential threats to their safety. The radio station’s founder Raed Fares, and reporter, Hamoud Juneid, were killed last November by armed men, suspected to be connected to an extremist group. Despite this devastating tragedy, and despite the risks accompanying their work, the Radio Fresh journalists continue fearlessly to bring truth to the people and defend democracy. Director of Radio Fresh, Abdulwareth Al Bakour, stood onstage with the Special Award in his hand, his voice unwavering. A moment after he spoke, the translator repeated his words in English: “When we are strong, we can stand against extremism in all its forms.”
I finished the live-tweets and headed back to the reception area to help interview several of the night’s winners. The first was the winner of the International Journalist of the Year Award and the Short Film Award, Guillermo Galdos. A respected journalist and filmmaker, as well as Channel 4 News’ Latin America Correspondent, I’ve followed his stories since high school. We prepped the camera and microphone to ask him a few questions. I shook his hand and said hello.
His words to the organisation were humble and brief: “This award is incredibly special. It means a lot to the work that we do in Latin America. It shows that the subjects that we’re covering: they’re the right ones… I’m incredibly thankful to One World Media.”
Seeing the exceptional work of these highly-esteemed international journalists, and being in the same room as them in a collective celebration of global media and storytelling, has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Attending the awards show was incredibly inspiring to me as a young journalist and reporter. It reminded of journalism’s irreplaceable importance: it is the foundation upon which democracy and freedom are built, and humankind thrives.
Democracy dies in darkness. But let’s not forget, however, that humanity does too. I’m grateful to have worked with One World Media to protect and celebrate good journalistic media—
the kind of journalism that enlightens,
the kind of journalism that illuminates
and the kind of journalism that humanises.
Grace Charles, One World Media Communications Intern 2019