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VOA Wins Two Awards at Chesapeake AP Contest

(From L to R): VOA's Natalie Liu, Carolyn Presutti and Aline Barros
(From L to R): VOA's Natalie Liu, Carolyn Presutti and Aline Barros

Voice of America reporters brought home two awards from this year’s Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association regional contest: Natalie Liu and Adam Greenbaum were awarded First Place in Multimedia/Online Journalism while VOA’s Immigration Unit received First Place in Outstanding Digital News Project.

In awarding Liu (writer, interviewer, video producer) and Greenbaum (camera) First Place in Multimedia/Online Journalism, the panel of judges thought their interview with former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky told an “intriguing story” and that both the written report and the five-part video segments were very well put together. Each of the video elements highlights a unique theme, including Sharansky’s journey from the cold cells in Siberia to freedom in Israel, his contemplation of the nature of totalitarian regimes, individual moral choices, and the critical roles of leadership, exemplified in dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and statesmen such as American president Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Natalie Liu, who has devoted much of her journalism career to reporting and writing about human rights and foreign policy, says getting to know the life and story of Natan Sharansky reinforced the notion that the battle for human rights and dignity is without borders, and “through this battle reveals the nobility of human spirit.”

VOA’s four-person Immigration Unit has three full-time reporters: Aline Barros, Ramon Taylor, Victoria Macchi and is led by editor Molly McKitterick. Their multimedia online report 2017 Immigration Year in Review, which was originally an idea from Macchi, is a comprehensive look at U.S. immigration policy and covers a wide range of topics from the administration's proposed travel ban, to the status of "dreamers" to President Trump's promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to curb illegal immigration.

In awarding the team first place honors, the judges noted that the VOA Immigration Unit’s 2017 Immigration Year in Review did an impressive job creating “a nice variety of elements that can enable the viewer to access the content in a way that suits how they want to learn...”

Immigration Unit Editor Molly McKitterick called the experience of putting together the project “amazing.” “What really made it rewarding," she said, "was how different the project was for us since we got to work on something that addressed all the big issues of the year.”

Aline Barros noted that what made their piece truly stand out was the “web videos from the video production team..." The video team consists of Marcus Harton, Bezhan Hamdard, and Brian Williamson.

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.