Voice of America Middle East and North Africa correspondent Heather Murdock received the prestigious David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for the strength, courage, and journalistic skill she exhibited in her coverage of the drive by coalition forces to retake the city of Mosul, Iraq, from Islamic State militants.
Beginning in October 2016, Murdock’s reports spanned five months of the conflict. Between mid-October and late December, Murdock filed more than 40 web, television and photo stories. She also appeared multiple times on VOA and affiliate radio and TV programs.
“Despite working and living in a war zone, which can be difficult at best, Heather’s reports show our audience the human side of the conflict,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “She is one of our most capable and intrepid war correspondents.”
Throughout this time period, Murdock worked alone with no support except for Halan Ibrahim Shekha, her local colleague who knew the region and helped her make contacts to develop her stories. She carried her own equipment, did her own camera work, carried her own gear and found her own sources.
In one series, Murdock interviewed people from a variety of different professions—including a barber, a teacher, a police officer, and a woman forced into sexual servitude by ISIS. The series presents first-person accounts of life under ISIS rule.
As a VOA correspondent now based in Istanbul, Murdock has worked in Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and covered the European refugee crisis. She draws on her expertise in Middle East politics and society, refugee crises, human rights disasters, and the Islamic State and other militant groups.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors presents the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards annually to recognize courage, integrity and professionalism of journalists working for each of the BBG networks--Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.