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VOA Captures Best in Show TV Prize at 2017 Chesapeake AP Awards

L to R: Bezhan Hamdard, Carolyn Presutti, and Jeff Swicord (Mike Burke missing) with their awards.
L to R: Bezhan Hamdard, Carolyn Presutti, and Jeff Swicord (Mike Burke missing) with their awards.

Voice of America won Best in Show – Television, as well as awards for Outstanding Digital Feature Project and Outstanding News Series, at last weekend’s Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association (CAPBA) annual awards banquet.

American Muslim Portraits, created by Carolyn Presutti, Bezhan Hamdard, Mike Burke, and Jeff Swicord, first won for Outstanding Digital Feature Project, then took the TV Best in Show prize.

In American Muslim Portraits, the judges noted that “VOA did an incredible job tackling a big subject of tremendous importance. Their ability to bring a relatable face and voice to a community that is the subject of intense discrimination was impressive, and it’s a critical story to tell.”

“The team did superb work on American Muslim Portraits,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “After selecting a diverse group of individuals, they had each person tell his or her own story and crafted the series to work ideally for a digital platform as well as on video.”

CAPBA’s award for Outstanding News Series went to The Air Force’s Quiet Crises, which covered the U.S. Air Force’s inability to carry out all planned missions due to a shortage of pilots and ground crews to service the aircraft. Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb and Photographer/Editor Mike Burke produced the series.

Earlier in the day, VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman served as a keynote speaker for the convention. He described news coverage in the White House along with a behind-the-scenes look at traveling overseas with the president, having just returned from traveling on Air Force One during President Trump’s recent trip.

The award-winning productions can be seen on, at American Muslim Portraits, Too Few Fighter Squadrons, and Air Force Cannot Produce Sorties.

The annual CAPBA journalism contest is open to journalists in DC, Maryland, and Delaware who work for AP member stations. The work must have been broadcast during the previous calendar year. Categories are separated into radio and television, and according to market size. A panel of peers from similar-sized markets judge the entries. Best of Show awards are voted on by a separate panel of judges.