Al Jazeera English has been named News Channel of the Year at this year’s Royal Television Society Awards.
Tuesday’s award saw the five-year-old broadcaster beating competitors including BBC News and Sky News.
The Qatar-based channel earned praise for its frontline coverage of the Arab Spring, including the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and for being the first on the scene to report the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader.
“Al Jazeera English has had the most incredible year: a year where people took to the streets in protest, the economic crisis unfolded across Europe, and the world witnessed the devastating impact of the tsunami in Japan”, said Al Anstey, the channel’s managing director.
“Al Jazeera English was there to capture every moment, and it is an even greater privilege for our reporters and bureaus across the world to receive this award in recognition of our great work.”
Additionally, the network’s social media programme, The Stream, received the Innovative News Award for its in-depth analysis of the struggle between government loyalists and opposition protesters in Bahrain.
The year-old DC-based programme, which relies heavily on social media platforms and Skype interviews for its content, brought the ongoing protests in Bahrain to the forefront and featured an intense Skype debate between Suhail Algosaibi, a government loyalist, and Zainab al-Khawajah, a Bahraini activist.
Utilising content from micro-blogging service Twitter, social networking site Facebook, and video sharing site YouTube, the programme featured a series of questions posed by members of the public directly to the show’s participants via these platforms.
“The Stream allowed people to share their experiences, air their views and give their opinions in the midst of government crackdowns across the Middle East. The Stream was created for this very purpose, because we acknowledged the power of social media and citizen journalism and wanted to harness it. We share this award with everyone that has contributed to the show and its success”, said Paul Eedle, director of programmes
The prestigious RTS win follows a number of awards the network has received in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, the documentary Shouting in the Dark on the uprising in Bahrain, which featured accounts of the “Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world” earned the network’s May Welsh and Hassan Mahfood a George Polk Award in Journalism for their film following the uprising from the initial days at Pearl Roundabout to the chaotic scenes of injured protesters overwhelming the Salmaniya Medical Complex.
Also amongst the recent wins was the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for the documentary Haiti: Six Months On on Al Jazeera English’s flagship US current affairs show Fault Lines.
The network also received the Columbia Journalism Award – the award given annually by Columbia University – in recognition of Al Jazeera English’s overall depth and quality of its coverage of the ongoing developments in the Middle East.
Founded in 1927, The British-based Royal Television Society is the oldest such organisation in the world.
The annual RTS Awards are decided by balanced juries of media professionals.