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VOA’s Hong Kong Reporting Team Receives Burke Award

VOA Mandarin service reporter, Yihua Lee, on the streets of Hong Kong.
VOA Mandarin service reporter, Yihua Lee, on the streets of Hong Kong.

Voice of America’s Hong Kong reporting team comprised of more than a dozen journalists from VOA’s China Branch and News Center received the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award on December 2 for their months-long, intrepid reporting on the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Named after David W. Burke, the first chairman of what was then the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- the predecessor to the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the award is presented to international broadcasters from each of the USAGM’s five networks for exceptional journalism in the face of danger or personal threat.

The VOA reporters traveled into the territory from Washington, D.C., Seoul, Bangkok and other locations to join a Mandarin-language service team already in place. They found themselves in the middle of one of the most harrowing episodes of unrest in Hong Kong’s history - covering protests while facing police intimidation, harassment and attacks. Hit by rubber bullets, they continued filming. Undeterred when confronted by armed police, they conducted live on-camera reports as police used tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators and Molotov cocktails were lobbed around them. VOA teams joined the protesters behind barricades to record their experiences and emotions. A Chinese viewer wrote to reporter Paris Huang: “Your reporting is our eyes to watch what’s going on in Hong Kong.”

“I want to congratulate our VOA Mandarin and News Center team who fearlessly braved danger each day on Hong Kong streets to bring this significant story to VOA’s global audiences,” said Acting VOA Director, Elez Biberaj. “They risked their lives to deliver fact-based and objective reporting, shedding light on a repressive government’s dark schemes in the finest VOA tradition.”

The U.S. Agency for Global Media presents the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards annually to recognize courage, integrity and professionalism of journalists working for each of the five USAGM networks.