Yara El Murr from Lebanon is Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist of the Year 2023.
Yara received the honour at the Foreign Press Association Media Awards ceremony in London in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen who was guest of honour at the gala event.
Yara was praised by the competition’s judges for the strength of her story writing and research. When the 25 year old took to the stage she delivered an impassioned speech to the audience, which included some of the world’s leading journalists.
She told them about a young Lebanese man called Hashem Methlej whose powerful story she recounted in this investigation - Intercepted at Sea: The Deadly Reality of Border Control. It's one of three stories she submitted for the competition which were published by The Public Source news outlet. It tells of Hashem's attempt to get to Europe for a better life. The boat he was in sunk and he is still missing.
I dedicate this award to the families whose loved ones lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea
Yara dedicated her award to him and to the families of loved ones whose bodies lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea.
Yara joined many winners on the night who paid tribute to the journalists risking their lives in Gaza. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says as of November 20th at least 50 journalists and media workers have been killed since the war began on October 7th 2023.
“I would like to honour the memory of all journalists who have been killed or injured in the past two months in what the Committee to Protect Journalists has called the deadliest conflict for journalists since the group began tracking deaths 30 years ago,” she told the audience.
Yara and the two other finalists Jamaima Afridi and Zuha Siddiqui were introduced to Queen Camilla in a private reception ahead of the awards ceremony. It was a highlight in a study tour which includes trips to news organisations including the BBC, Channel 4 News and The Guardian.
All three finalists have a strong commitment to local journalism.
“The recognition and appreciation of our work is a testament to the power and importance of local journalism that serves local communities and connects their struggles to the larger picture,” says Yara.
The Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award is an annual competition organised in partnership with the UK’s Foreign Press Association (FPA). It is open to journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than USD20,000.