The journalists behind the Al Jazeera English documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark have won the 63rd annual George Polk Award in Journalism.
Ranked among the US’ most coveted journalism honours, the George Polk Awards – named after an American journalist who was killed covering the civil war in Greece in 1948 – have been administered by Long Island University since 1949.
A committee of jurors recognised Al Jazeera’s May Welsh and Hassan Mahfood for producing a film that “gives a voice to the protesters for democratic rights and presents a harrowing, on-the-ground view of their brutal suppression”.
Previous winners of the awards include Seymour Hersh, Ted Koppel and Christiane Amanpour.
It is the second accolade won by the film, which was awarded the UK Foreign Press Association Award for Best Documentary in November 2011.
The documentary, which was first broadcast on Al Jazeera English on August 4, 2011, follows the unraveling of the Bahraini uprising from the initial days at Pearl Roundabout to the chaotic scenes of injured protesters overwhelming the Salmaniya Medical Complex.
The film was shot entirely by Welsh with her field producer, Mahfood, over the course of a three-month period from February to April 2011.
Of the award, Welsh said: “Shouting in the Dark provides a visceral insight into a country that was often overlooked during a time of great upheaval in the Arab world. The bravery and spirit depicted in the film continues to touch the hearts of people across the globe. This award is a proud achievement for Al Jazeera, and recognition of the courage shown by the people I met whilst filming in Bahrain.”
As the crackdown in Bahrain deepened, Al Jazeera was the only international news provider to remain in the country.
“We are delighted to have won such a prestigious and coveted award,” said Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English.
“This recognition comes on the back of a series of high-profile award wins for the channel, and is a testament to Al Jazeera’s commitment to put honest, eye-witness reporting at the heart of the global news agenda. We look forward to continue providing award-winning coverage to our growing audiences in the US and across the world.”