February 28, 2019
ISLAMABAD - Six journalists representing four local, national, and international news organizations won top honors at the inaugural Pakistan Data Journalism Awards organized by Media Matters for Democracy.
The winners include Swat-based journalist Niaz Ahmad Khan, Alia Chughtai and Asad Hashim of Al Jazeera English, Ramsha Jahangir of Dawn, former Express Tribune reporter Riazul Haq, and former Samaa Digital journalist Hisham Sajid.
The awards were distributed at a ceremony in Islamabad Thursday.
The contest received 76 entries from journalists representing different types of media, including print and digital, and various publications from all over Pakistan.
The contest jury comprised media strategist Sahar Habib Ghazi, broadcast journalists Amber Rahim Shamsi and Hamid Mir, and Media Matters for Democracy co-founders Asad Baig and Sadaf Khan.
In his keynote address, jury member Hamid Mir said the quality of journalism had seen a downfall in recent years, which has led to a crisis of credibility among the journalists and the public. He said data and investigative reporting needs to be encouraged to improve the quality of journalism in the country.
Mir distributed awards and book prizes among the winners.
The Best News Investigation of the Year award went to journalist Niaz Ahmad Khan for an investigative report exposing the police tactics to misreport cases of honor killings in the Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Alia Chughtai and Asad Hashim of Al Jazeera English received the award for Best Data Visualization for News for their collaborative work on a series of interactive visualizations about Pakistan's 2018 general elections. Ms. Chughtai is a Senior Producer Interactive, and Hashim is the Al Jazeera English online correspondent in Pakistan.
Commenting on the visualizations, jury member Ms. Ghazi said the 2018 elections in Pakistan was a time of massive misinformation and disinformation and citizens were flooded with manipulated memes and decontextualized video clips on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter.
“At a time where it became difficult to sift through overwhelming false or misleading data, Alia Chughtai and Asad Hashim's well-sourced data-driven visual reporting offered easy-to-understand and much needed credible analysis,” she said.
Ramsha Jahangir of Dawn won the awards for Best Use of Data in a News Report or Series and Best Data Journalist Portfolio (Print) for her in-depth and tenacious coverage of online freedom of expression issues, social media regulation, and the manipulation of social media conversations by political parties.
Ms. Ghazi said the stories showcased Ramsha's skill at unwrapping data in the narrative form.
“Her consistent devotion to making digital rights understandable to citizens and policy-makers, through print and digital, makes Ramsha's journalistic skill much-needed in Pakistan,” she said. “Pakistan's Internet clampdown, not only offered us key data on crucial under-scrutinized events, but it also crafted in-depth insight about our digital censorship reality.”
Riazul Haq (pictured) won the award for Best Use of Data in a News Report (Online), a reporter who previously worked for The Express Tribune. Haq’s multimedia story dealt with human trafficking from Punjab to European countries. The story was produced by Shaheryar Popalzai and carried illustrations by Saadat Ali and Ibrahim Yahya.
Haq, who now works for Hum News, used data from the Federal Investigation Agency, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and European Border Control to show the extent of the human trafficking trade. He used accounts of human smugglers and people deported for illegal immigration to humanize his data-driven report.
Hisham Sajid won the Pakistan Data Journalism Award in the Best Data Journalist Portfolio (Online) category for his stories on elections and economic activity for Samaa TV’s news website. The jury stated that Sajid’s stories showed the ability to use data to test popular misconceptions and myths and explain the findings for a layman audience.
The awards committee also presented an honorable mention trophy to Khalid Khattak, The News journalist and founder of the online data journalism website Data Stories for his consistent efforts towards promotion of data-driven news reporting in Pakistan.
Asim Bashir Khan, an economist and freelance writer, was also awarded an honorable mention for his data analysis and commentary on Pakistan’s economic situation.
Sadaf Khan, Director Programs of Media Matters for Democracy and jury member, said the awards contest is an effort to encourage evidence-based investigative reporting in the country.
“We hope to recognize the work of local journalists who are using data and documents to highlight issues of public importance and bring accountability and transparency in governance,” Ms. Khan said. “I am confident that the award-winning stories will also inspire other reporters and editors to use data more effectively in their news coverage.”
Photo: Riazul Haq - Facebook
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