Press Release

World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network Announces Winners for the World Indigenous Journalism Awards 2014

June 19, 2014 – The World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network, WITBN congratulates the winners and special recognition for the World Indigenous Journalism Awards 2014 (WIJA 2014) for the following categories:

Investigative Reporting

Mihingarangi Forbes, Annabelle Lee-Harris, Adrian Stevanon, Richard Langston / Feathering the Nest (Māori Television, Aotearoa New Zealand)

International Reporting

Adrian Stevanon, Richard Langston/ Tonga Ferries (Māori Television, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Best Videography

Bill Scott/ Sundance (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada)

Special Recognition

Sorcha Ní Mhonacháin/ Abuse (TG4, Ireland)

WITBN announced that winners of the WIJA 2014 at the awards gala dinner held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on June 19. This year the awards open to three categories and one special recognition was granted to Sorcha Ní Mhonacháin who produced the report Abuse for Irish broadcaster TG4.

WIJA recognizes research and dedicated journalism that seeks out the truth; reports that uncover and/or delve into government policies, social justice, and general affairs important to Indigenous Peoples nationally or internationally.

Investigative Journalism requires effort, sufficient time and research. Indigenous perspective is a crucial part of this award. Indigenous journalism questions not only the government policies and issues, but our newsrooms also look at the issues within our own societies. The Best Investigative Reporting presents not only the truth, but it delivers reciprocity and impact, noteworthy for its positive effect or influence in the community; and generate public benefit, making a balanced and significant contribution to a greater public understanding and appreciation of contemporary issues or developments.

2014 Best Investigative Reporting was given to Mihingarangi Forbes, Annabelle Lee-Harris, Adrian Stevanon, and Richard Langston of Māori Television in Aotearoa New Zealand for their current affairs report Feathering the Nest. The jury praised the report as “an excellent example of the rigor with which we need to conduct ourselves as journalists to tackle such difficult legal stories and an excellent and brave investigation, which had huge consequences in the community afterward.” For Indigenous media, it is not easy to challenge or confront respected members of our own communities with difficult questions and hard facts. This report, however, appeared to do that fearlessly. Furthermore, the journalists took care to show how important the institution is to the Māori people, what benefit it continues to provide, and furthermore, paid due respect to the historical contributions of the individuals involved.

Indigenous peoples around the world face common issues and struggles: the very survival of languages, culture, and identity. The experiences can be shared around the world; and through an international report, our audiences can learn the lessons of another tribe on the other side of the world. Best International Reporting acknowledges the story that best covers foreign Indigenous communities and issues. They raise awareness of the issues affecting Indigenous rights, languages, and cultures. The report presents a shared value among Indigenous Peoples and communities around the world; it could be a domestic issue but exists in most Indigenous societies. The International Report presents a story that is remote to the public eyes, or is less accessible to media, but shares common value with other Indigenous communities.

This year, the Best International Reporting was awarded to Adrian Stevanon and Richard Langston of Māori Television in Aotearoa New Zealand for their news report Tonga Ferries. In 2009 Tonga suffered its worst maritime disaster in recorded history. The passenger ferry the ‘Princess Ashika’ sank to the bottom of the Pacific taking 74 souls with it. Most were women and young children and only 2 bodies were recovered.

One picture can convey the true image of one subject; but from a different angle, it could also tell the audience a completely different story. Video and footage are the essence of a television news report. Moving images with high-quality techniques can best present the true and balanced image of Indigenous Peoples. The Best Videography Award places a high-priority on how the images of the report represent Indigenous Peoples, the accessibility of obtaining and filming the footage, the perspective presented through the moving images. Most importantly, the images help to increase understanding rather than cause confusion and stereotypes of one culture.

Jury of the Best Videography category praised the story Sundance produced by Bill Scott of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network as a remarkable piece of access journalism, giving viewers insight into a ceremony that is very rarely (if ever) shown in photos or video. Jury commented that the Scott had gained trust with the subjects and established an important reciprocal relationship with the main character of the report to ensure his perspective would be honored. Furthermore, the reporter (and the main subject) would have been well aware that broadcasting this ceremony would attract criticism; by proceeding, they engaged the audience in an important and thought-provoking debate about the nature of ceremony in contemporary times.

Indigenous channels worldwide are currently questioning how media is used to communicate culture. Indigenous media, specifically, need to always question how we cover and report sacred ceremony, and to reflect the voices in the community and always consider the repercussions. Scott’s report on Sundance won critical acclaims from the jury, which said that the Scott and his broadcaster treated the ceremony with sensitivity, with respect for difference of opinion in the Indigenous community about broadcasting the images, and engaged audiences in the conversation (both positive and negative) about it's decision to broadcast.

Special Recognition

Selecting from all entries of 2014, Secretary General Patagaw Talimalaw and head of jury Duncan McCue give the Special Recognition to the investigative report Abuse, produced by Sorcha Ní Mhonacháin for the Irish broadcaster TG4.

The World Indigenous Journalism Awards gives Special Recognition to this powerful story told succinctly, simply, and with high regard for those who obviously built a trusting relationship with the journalist. The core tenets of good journalism are evident here - but what is more important is the journalists’ ability to let the people come forward to speak in front of a camera.

Ní Mhonacháin’s report presents an excellent topic, research and disciplined reporting and interviewing, that is told with compassion. It presents the exclusive, sensitive, yet thought evoking and emotive story that it was. A difficult story being told with very trying circumstances for those involved.

About the Winners

Best Investigative Reporting / Feathering the Nest, Māori Television, Aotearoa New Zealand / Mihingarangi Forbes, Annabelle Lee-Harris, Adrian Stevanon, Richard Langston

In September Native Affairs broadcast a story examining the governing body of the most important language movement Te Kohanga Reo. Critics of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust believed it had lost sight of its core business - looking after family and the language nests. They said the trust (which is a charitable organization) spent some of the money it gets from government more like a corporate business. They were angered it was using trust money to make personal loans to staff and board members. In contrast, workers at the coalface of kohanga reo have to scrimp and save. After that story went to air documentation was leaked to the news crew. The documentations seemed to show highly questionable spending at the trust and it's subsidiary company Te Pataka Ohanga. Native Affairs began to investigate but before broadcast the story, the trust filed an injunction against Māori Television at the high court. Ironically the legal action they initiated forced the trust to answer the questions they had refused to answer. That court case and the information that the news team gathered as a result of it were then incorporated into this story. The trust eventually dropped their injunction and the broadcaster was able to broadcast 'Feathering The Nest'

Best International Reporting / Tonga Ferries, Māori Television, Aotearoa New Zealand / Adrian Stevanon, Richard Langston

In 2012 reporter Adrian Stevanon received a tip off that The World Bank and the New Zealand government had commissioned reports on maritime safety in Tonga and that despite some disturbing observations were choosing to ignore the findings of those reports. Stevanon then lodged an official information act request with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry applied delay tactics but after months of phone calls to maritime experts around the world Stevanon was finally able to procure a copy of the reports in question from the Tongan government. He then traveled to Tonga with story producer Richard Langston. After broadcasting this report, the story was picked up by the New Zealand Herald, the country’s largest circulation newspaper.

Best Videography / Sundance, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada / Bill Scott (Studio Crew/Camera Person)

The reporter arranged to meet with ceremony key person prior to the event. Over the course of several weeks, they negotiated the ‘ground rules’ for filming the Sun Dance ceremony until finally they both felt ready to proceed. The news team agreed to some restrictions on what could be filmed. The actual camera work required caution, so as not to disturb the participants (many of whom were at first suspicious of her presence). They also wanted to scrupulously avoid any disruption of the ceremony. During the event, reporter had regular discussions with the ceremony holder and other participants in order to maintain the trust that had been established. The subsequent editing process was considerable and delicate – in recognition of the sensitive nature of the story. Scott has worked in the broadcast industry for over 15 years. He first got his start with a private production company and then went on to work for a PBS affiliate in Duluth MN. Scott was one of six individuals who formed the first studio crew at APTN in 2000 and worked on the very first APTN National News production, InVision. In that time Bill has worked on countless live events, awards shows, concerts, and as a daily news shooter. Scott is Anishinabe from Manitoba.

Special Recognition / Abuse, TG4, Ireland / Sorcha Ní Mhonacháin

This story was in preparation by Nuacht TG4 when the perpetrator of the child abuse died. The three victims were happy to come forward with their stories, and the death of Domnhall Ó Lubhlaí didn't deter them. The approach to the story was very straightforward, and the bulk of the work was done before as much as one frame of tape was recorded. Central to the approach was the relationship between the news team and the victims; trust and integrity were central to this relationship and this honest relationship is what created the space for the revelations that followed. This story came as a shock to several generations of former students, parents, activists in the Irish language movement and indeed official Ireland. To have someone with a high profile and who was so involved with children over many decades, exposed as a danger to children, caused ripples around the language community.

Ní Mhonacháin has been working as a journalist for the past 15 years. She spent THREE years with the Irish language newspaper Foinse, before joining the TG4 newsroom. A native Irish speaker born to parents originally from an English-speaking district, Ní Mhonacháin believes that the Irish-speaking community's social, educational and cultural needs should be provided for in their own language, on a par with the needs of English speakers in Ireland. Ní Mhonacháin holds a degree in Italian & French from the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland.

About WIJA

Launched in 2010, WITBN’s World Indigenous Journalism Awards, WIJA, honors excellence in audio-visual journalism that demonstrates superior journalistic skills in a form and manner best representing Indigenous storytelling. WIJA especially acknowledges the significance of journalism that best delivers the Indigenous perspective and contributes to leverage the public understanding of the Indigenous reality nationally and internationally.

WIJA seeks to recognize and reward the best examples of professional journalism in Indigenous television and audiovisual media. In particular the awards looks to the portrayal of an Indigenous perspective on stories of local, national or international impact. Journalistic standards and ethics are the key component of this recognition.

About WITBN

The First Global Indigenous Television Media Network, in the Spirit of Sharing.

Established in 2008, the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network is the first global alliance that aims to unify television broadcasters worldwide to retain and grow our Indigenous languages and cultures. Our commitment is to preserve and promote the Indigenous languages and cultures through media networking, news and program sharing, and television broadcasting. In the spirit of sharing, WITBN’s mission is to develop collaborative relationships among Indigenous television broadcasters to create various media opportunities for our members and help nurture Indigenous media worldwide.

For more information about WITBN and WIJA 2014, contact:
WIJA@WITBN.org or info@WITBN.org

Go to http://witbn.org/winners.php to watch the winning reports.

Secretariat Office
World Indigenous Television Broadcaster Network

APTN and WITBN present KANATA 14 | WITBC from June 19 - 23 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Online registration at http://WITBC2014.com/register/