Al Jazeera wins four Webby awards

Network’s AJ Short film, virtual reality unit Contrast, and AJ+ online series In Real Life among the 2019 winners.

Al Jazeera Media logo seen at HQ in Doha
The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar [Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters]

The Al Jazeera Media Network has won four Webby awards in a contest that is often referred to as the Emmy’s of the online world.

The Qatar-based network’s wins emerged from out of more than 13,000 entries from an array of media organisations, including the Washington Post, National Geographic, Disney, New York Times, Huffington Post, Vox and many more.

Adhering to its motto of giving “a voice to the voiceless”, Al Jazeera’s AJ Short Growing up too fast in Afghanistan picked up a Webby jury win as well as a top prize in the People’s Voice category.

The short film – filmed and directed by Preethi Nallu – tells the heart-rending story of 14-year-old Khudai, whose father was killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). Khudai would like to live a normal childhood but now must face the hard reality of ensuring the survival of his five younger sisters and mother.


“I see other kids with their school bags and pens and wish I went to school too, studied, read and wrote,” Khudai explained in the short film, which has been recognised by other award competitions this year.

Contrast, Al Jazeera’s virtual reality unit, also picked up a win for Best Series in the People’s Voice competition for 7 Stories for 7 Years.

The series tracks the aspirations of seven Syrian teens in one of the world’s largest refugee camps, Zaatari, in Jordan. Marah, one of the characters in the series, is 18 and the mother of a five-month-old son. She’s also a photographer and filmmaker.

“My message to every girl in the world is do not stop dreaming for any reason,” Marah said in the 360 film.

Carlos van Meek, director of Digital Innovation and Programming, said he is proud of his team’s performance and considers winning the awards proof that there is room for news and current affairs in the digital space.

“These wins show that Al Jazeera Digital is well positioned to continue telling strong stories from places like Afghanistan and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan long after the media spotlight may have faded,” he said.

“Awards like the Webby’s reinforce Al Jazeera’s mission to empower people by sharing their stories with a global audience,” van Meek added. 

The AJ+ English online series In Real Life also scooped up a win for its 14-minute expose of pandemic food wastage in the United States.

The show’s producer-presenter, Yara Elmjouie, noted that one-third of all edible food is discarded every year in the US, thrown into dumpsters by restaurants, supermarkets and consumers.

Medals will be conferred during the 23rd annual Webby gala to be held in New York City on May 13, an event that is well attended by media members, innovators and celebrities.

Source: Al Jazeera