Al Jazeera Media Network has scooped a record number of prizes at the prestigious New York Festivals TV & Films awards, including the Broadcaster of the Year award for Al Jazeera English, which it won for a third consecutive year.
Judges awarded the Qatar-based network 18 gold, 17 silver and 14 bronze medals at the ceremony in New York on Tuesday, putting the overall tally at 49.
Among the winners were 101 East, the English channel’s weekly current affairs programme featuring stories from across Asia and the Pacific, and the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit, which recently uncovered discussions between Australia’s One Nation party and the powerful US-based National Rifle Association gun lobby over relaxing weapons laws in the Pacific island nation.
The observational-documentary Witness and the environmental show Earthrise were also honoured at the awards.
Giles Trendle, managing director of Al Jazeera English division, said the network’s prizes represented a “gratifying validation from our industry peers of the professionalism of our work and the importance of what we do”.
“Around the globe our journalists work day and night to inform and empower people with accurate, impartial and independent content,” Trendle said.
“It is not an easy job. We face challenges in the context of increasing attacks on journalists and media organisations.”
The number of journalists and media workers killed while carrying out their jobs rose again in 2018 to 94, reversing a downward trend of the previous three years, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
US-based NGO the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), meanwhile, put the number of journalists jailed last year at 251, with Turkey, China and Egypt accounting for more than half of all the reporters put behind bars.
Al Jazeera Arabic reporter Mahmoud Hussein has spent more than two years in an Egyptian prison without formal charges.
The New York Festivals TV & Films competition honours programming in all lengths and forms from more than 50 countries.
This year’s Grand Jury was composed of prominent international broadcast and film industry executives from over 30 countries across six continents.
This year also marked a debut in the New York Festivals for Al Jazeera’s Digital Division with AJ Shorts, which specialises in short documentaries of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, which won two gold medals and a bronze.
Director of Digital Innovation Carlos Van Meek described the awards as an “honour” and said it was a “great privilege to tell the stories of incredible people from different parts of the world”.
“Al Jazeera Digital strives to keep human stories at the heart of its content. It’s encouraging to see our efforts being appreciated,” he added.