The RFK Foundation has awarded its 2009 prize for best international reporting on television to Michael Kavanagh and to the public television program WorldFocus for Kavanagh's reporting on rape as a weapon of war in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kavanagh did the reporting last fall, on one of three trips to the region commissioned and funded by the Pulitzer Center.
What follows is the WNET.org press release:
WORLDFOCUS WINS PRESTIGIOUS ROBERT F. KENNEDY JOURNALISM AWARD
Reports on the Crisis in the Congo
NEW YORK, NY (April 13, 2009) — Worldfocus, the nightly international newscast shown on public television, has been awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for "Crisis in the Congo: The Story of Pascal and Vestine."
Worldfocus is a production of Creative News Group for WNET.ORG – one of America's most prolific and respected public media providers, and presented by WLIW New York and American Public Television to public television stations nationally.
With the help of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Worldfocus correspondent Michael J. Kavanagh and cameraman Taylor Krauss traveled to eastern Congo as fighting intensified in October 2008. Worldfocus executive producer Marc Rosenwasser and producer Lisa Biagiotti were also cited for one story about the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people because of war and another describing the use of rape as a political weapon.
"We are honored to receive this prestigious award," said Worldfocus Executive Producer Marc Rosenwasser. "Our intent is do important and thought-provoking stories that will help our viewers better understand the world."
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been called the deadliest conflict since World War II. More than five million people have died, mostly from preventable disease and starvation, in this decade-long war. In the last year alone, more than a million people have fled the fighting in eastern Congo.
"This two-part 'Signature Story' by Worldfocus reflects the courage, timeliness and skill in bringing an underreported story to a large American audience," said Neal Shapiro, President & CEO of WNET.ORG. "This prestigious award validates the quality work the staff at Worldfocus accomplishes every day."
"The Story of Pascal and Vestine" follows Pascal, a school teacher, and Vestine, his wife who was nine months pregnant, from displacement camp to displacement camp. The story includes the history of the rebel advance and the inadequacy of the United Nations' peacekeeping effort.
The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award honors the outstanding reporting of the lives and strife of disadvantaged people throughout the world. Led by a committee of six independent journalists, the awards are judged by more than 50 journalists each year. It has become the largest program of its kind and one of the few in which the winners are determined solely by their peers.
Worldfocus airs Monday through Friday on most public television stations (check local listings) and can be viewed anytime online at www.Worldfocus.org.
Worldfocus delivers international news in a way that is uniquely relevant to American audiences. Moving beyond crisis reporting, the newscast – both on-air and online – explores the connections between issues unfolding abroad and developments in the United States. Worldfocus allows Americans to hear voices that aren't ordinarily heard in the American media, but which have critical importance to the present and future of our nation. Worldfocus is produced by Creative News Group for WNET.ORG and presented by WLIW New York and American Public Television to public television stations nationally.
New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content. The parent of Thirteen, WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Worldfocus, Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Wide Angle, Secrets of the Dead, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Visions, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, Wild Chronicles, Miffy and Friends, and Cyberchase to national and international audiences. Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects. In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal – to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America and the world. For more information, visit www.wnet.org.