Yara El Murr is a 25-year-old journalist and documentary filmmaker from Lebanon. She is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 2023.
The award's panel of judges says Yara 'brings a different angle to the issue of migration and displacement'.
“I keep doing this difficult work because even if the impact today is a drop in the ocean, I believe it adds up,” says Yara, who as part of her competition entry submitted this investigation Intercepted at Sea: The deadly Reality of Border Control published by The Public Source. It tells the story of a brother and sister who climb aboard a ‘death boat’, desperate to reach Europe and a better life.
"Immigration has been well documented across the Mediterranean, especially those originating in North Africa, but this is a newer trend from the coast of Lebanon,” she says. “It's very dangerous, but it is not really grabbing a lot of media attention at this moment, but I think this story already started the conversation.”
Journalism is also about connecting the dots and linking the large political, social and economic issues with the real-life impact
Yara describes the situation in Lebanon as ‘tense and dangerous for a journalist’. “I went into journalism because I believe in the power of fact based, accessible storytelling," she says.
“I feel an urgency to uncover the wrongdoings around us, to hold power to account, and to give a platform to marginalised voices. For me, journalism is also about connecting the dots and linking the large political, social and economic issues with the real-life impact.”
The shortlist is judged by an external panel from the Foreign Press Association Awards. This year’s panel are journalists Marcela Gutiérrez Bobadilla (W Radio, Mexico), Tristan de Bourbon-Parme (La Libre Belgique, Belgium), and Antonella Zangaro (il Giornale, Italy). They praised Yara for submitting ‘three diverse, well written and researched pieces’.
Yara says it’s a ‘great honour’ to be chosen as a finalist. "I also consider it a testament to the power and importance of local journalism and the public interest,” she says.
In partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA), the annual award is open to journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US$20,000.
Each entrant needs to submit a portfolio of three published pieces of work produced in the 12 months preceding the deadline for submissions which was August 11th, 2023.
The winner will be announced at the Foreign Press Association Awards in London, UK on November 20, 2023.