Al Jazeera's 100 Faces of Rohingya wins Drum Online Media Award

Photojournalist Showkat Shafi wins prize for powerful curation highlighting the portraits of 100 Rohingya refugees.

    Al Jazeera's 100 Faces of Rohingya wins Drum Online Media Award
    Showkat Shafi: 'As a photographer, I wanted to go beyond the numbers that these people were being reduced to' [Al Jazeera]

    Producer and photojournalist Showkat Shafi, of Al Jazeera English Online, won a prestigious prize for his photography on Tuesday at the Drum Online Media Awards in London.

    The prize, in the category of Best Use of Photography, was for Showkat's 100 Faces of Rohingya, a powerful curation highlighting the portraits of 100 Rohingya refugees, aged three to 95, who were part of some 730,000 Rohingya forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh by the Myanmar Army.

    As the exodus grew, and tens of thousands of makeshift tents were hastily erected, Showkat travelled to Bangladesh to document the unfolding humanitarian crisis. He returned six months later to speak with survivors and to attempt to put a face to their story.

    "As a photographer, I wanted to go beyond the numbers that these people were being reduced to," Showkat said from the sidelines of the Drum gala dinner.

    "I wanted my photos to help make them human again by revealing their pain, but also their hopes and dreams."

    Up against steep competition from other news organizations, and high budget, multi-person projects, the Drum judges chose 100 Faces of Rohingya as an example of "fantastic photojournalism, beautiful execution and excellent integration of photos."

    This year, Al Jazeera Media Network had eleven Drum Online Media nominations and was in competition with an array of professional peers from CNN, Channel Four, the BBC, VICE, Huff Post and others. Six online units were nominated, including the network’s VR unit, Contrast, AJLabs (interactives), AJ Shorts, its Twitter and News teams. This year also marked a first nomination for Al Jazeera Arabic Online, in the Commentary and Blogging category.

    Carlos van Meek, director of Digital Innovation and Programming, said he is proud of his team's performance and considers winning the award proof that the digital space offers powerful alternatives to traditional journalism and field reportage.

    "These portraits reveal the terrible predicament faced by displaced and persecuted minorities," van Meek said.

    "Showkat's work lends itself to a gallery experience where viewers can click through to see and understand the story in a very direct and personal way. Showkat's win is a win for us all."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News