It’s one of those points in the annual media calendar that early-career journalists await on the edge of their seats – and the moment has arrived.
We can now announce the shortlist for this year’s Young Journalist Award – and what an exciting bunch this group is. As we navigate major global challenges from the pandemic to the climate emergency, the shortlist is a reminder of the powerful contribution journalists can make.
Supported by the UK’s Foreign Press Association (FPA), Thomson Foundation has been searching for talent from around the world since 2013 and its Young Journalist Award enjoys a reputation as the premier prize for up-and-coming journalists from emerging economies.
Championing the woman leading the fight against climate change in El Salvador, documenting the dark and unsettling realities of child marriage in India and highlighting the transgender community being shut out of Malaysia’s healthcare system are some of the stories told by the 10 talented journalists shortlisted for this year’s award.
The Young Journalist Award enjoys a reputation as the premier prize for up-and-coming journalists.
The 10 have been selected by the foundation’s judging panel, Helen Scott, Deborah Kelly and Hosam El Nagar, from nearly 200 entries from 55 countries. After the next rounds of judging, the winner will be announced on 29th November at the FPA Awards ceremony in London, which will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page.
For now, scroll down to meet the candidates, discover why the judges were drawn to each of them and decide on your favourite.
Illustration by Mahima Jain for her piece, “No One Knows About Me.” India’s ‘Left-Behind’ Women
The judges particularly liked the story of environmental campaigner, Sonia Sanchez, whose fight illustrated the real problems in El Salvador. The piece was well written and structured and took the reader to the heart of the issues. Carmen's other stories were about the textile workers turning a warehouse into a feminist space and the chilling case of the murdered and the missing Lima family.
Parth’s stories revealed the devastating personal and financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in rural India and the judges were impressed by his investigation into child brides being married off as young as 12 to save families’ money. His third story was about how the climate crisis is hurting farmers.
One of Samad’s pieces featured a timely story on a drug trial that went wrong 24 years previously. He caught up with the uncompensated victims and pieced together what had gone wrong in a meticulous investigation. Samad's other stories were about the retirees being denied their pensions and the underserved communities drinking from dirty streams.
Judges praised the brave and moving film from Shrouk about a transgender teacher’s fight to be accepted; her approach to the Covid-19 story, by profiling the experiences of eight health workers living in fear but doing their duty, was similarly impressive. Her third story was about a major campaign to clean up the Nile.
Daniel went undercover to expose child trafficking in rural villages. His investigation into the Ugandan private health system exposed a series of shortcomings and exploitations of patients and families desperate for care during the Covid-19 pandemic. Another of his stories documented the rate of human encroachment on Lake Victoria.
Kai investigated corruption and environmental mismanagement in a waste disposal business, as well as trans-rights in Malaysian hospitals, showing a range of skills. She also documented the controversial mining operations linked to Pahang royalty.
Judges praised Tatiana’s investigation on a trio of stories; the illegal raising of beef cattle in protected areas, the sale of illegal shark fins and how indigenous people are at the mercy of gangs. All thorough and well written.
Ibrahim put himself in the picture in his video investigation into the lack of public toilet facilities in Dhaka (transcriptions available here). The judges liked his approach and felt the story was fresh and original. His other two stories were about the pure water crisis and water ATM booths.
Mahima reported on the women left behind with no land rights by migrant husbands. It was thoroughly researched, a very human story and well presented. Her investigation into domestic violence worsening during the Covid-19 pandemic was similarly impressive. Mahima also presented a podcast episode about India's farm laws and the threats to biodiversity as part of her portfolio of work.
Zuha’s trio of stories – a trans TikTok star trading the sidelines for the spotlight, an investigation into a fake vaccine programme by the CIA during the hunt for Bin Laden which has led to vaccine hesitancy, and a look at new biodiverse farming methods – show great range and flair.
What happens next?
Congratulations to our 10 shortlisted entrants. It’s now over to independent judges selected by the FPA – Inigo Gurruchaga of El Correo in Spain; Niaz Alam of Dhaka Tribune in Bangladesh; and Tinne Hjersing Knudsen of DR Nyheder in Denmark – to select three finalists to go through to the final round of judging.
The chosen three will be profiled on our website at the beginning of November and receive learning bursaries to the value of £1,000 each.
We are all affected by environmental issues and commend the shortlisted journalists who took the environmental theme in various directions.
And there are other names to note…
This year, our Young Journalist Award took aim at the climate emergency with each entrant required to submit at least one environmental story as part of their portfolio of work.
Fifteen exceptional environmental stories have been plucked out from this year’s Young Journalist Award long list by our internal judging panel and will be showcased on our website and social media channels during COP26. The names of the journalists behind the stories will be revealed here soon.
The winner of our special, one-off environmental award will be decided by a second panel of judges – Thomson Foundation CEO, Caro Kriel, environmental reporter for The Guardian, Patrick Greenfield and Carbon Brief director, Leo Hickman – and will be announced alongside our Young Journalist Award winner at the FPA Awards, with a £1,000 learning bursary as the prize.
Image by Raqib Naik for his piece, "Homes, nature lost for seven new dams in Jammu & Kashmir"
Irrespective of who wins on 29 November, we are all affected by environmental issues, such as climate change, and we commend each of the 15 shortlisted journalists who took the environmental theme in various directions, ranging from more literal interpretations highlighting the importance of clean water in Egypt, to ideas of community and togetherness in Cuba.
Check back soon and set a reminder for our Twitter Spaces conversation on 26th October with Earth Journalism Network and The Third Pole where we’ll be cutting through the noise around climate reporting and COP26, featuring one of the young journalists shortlisted for our environmental award. Follow us on Twitter @thomfound for more. To stay up to date on our competitions, sign up to our newsletter.
About: Sara is responsible for the creation and delivery of engaging and effective messages, campaigns, publications and print and digital design concepts that support and promote the foundation.