November 8, 2016; Associated Press (ABC News)
For the second time in two years, a Syrian journalist has won the annual award of the international advocacy group Reporters without Borders. This year, the winner is Hadi Abdallah, who won the honor for covering the Syrian war through social media from its most devastated, opposition-held areas. The Committee to Protect Journalists has deemed Syria the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist.
Abdallah is a citizen journalist and anti-regime activist, which reflects some of the profound changes in journalism over the last decade. He is known for his reporting in the immediate aftermath of artillery and air attacks despite the likelihood of follow-up strikes meant to deter rescuers. Al Jazeera did a recent interview and profile here.
Abdallah was unable to attend, but said to the Associated Press, “This prize honors the Syrian journalists who have offered their lives in order to convey the truth to the people.” Abdallah was himself wounded—and his cameraman and fellow reporter Khaled al-Issa killed—by a bomb hidden behind a door in their home in June. At that time, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 95 foreign and local journalists had been killed since the war started in 2011, and the rate of killings has slowed only because there are fewer left there to be killed. Al Jazeera reported at the time that most international media outlets had finally suspended their reporting in the region, leaving the job of covering the war to local journalists and freelancers.
“I consider getting this prize a victory for the media of the Syrian revolution against the media of Assad and his allies,” Abdallah told the AP on Tuesday.
Zaina Erhaim won the award last year, but also could not attend.—Ruth McCambridge