Al Jazeera Digital earned a record 35 medals, including seven gold medals, at the 41st annual Telly Awards on May 27.
Spanning 14 categories in the competition that honours “video across all screens”, the awards signalled the diversity of Al Jazeera’s online offerings as video continues to drive innovation and find new expression on digital platforms, a press statement noted.
‘AJ Close Up’, the documentary short film boutique led by Andrew James Phillips, won a prize haul of five gold and six silver medals, including a gold medal for best Online Webseries and four gold medals for ‘Mexico’s Missing Sons’, ‘India’s Offside Girls’, ‘Bolivia’s Fight Club’ and ‘Out of Sight in Kashmir’.
The video explainer series ‘Start Here’, hosted by Sandra Gathmann, also won in the News & Information category for its coronavirus series while ‘Fork the System’, the online food meets current affairs series hosted by producers Joi Lee and HyoJin Park, won a gold medal in the Online Documentary category for ‘Korea: a divided country, a united table’.
AJ+ English also scooped five silver medals, including for the ‘Untold America’ episode ‘Life as a turban-wearing American Trucker’, hosted by Shreen Khan, and an episode from the multiple award-winning ‘Direct From’ series hosted by Dena Takriri, ‘Why is the Navy Exploding Bombs in Puerto Rico?’.
True to Al Jazeera Media Network’s core value of “giving a voice to the voiceless, the 35 wins spanned 14 categories and from across the globe, telling the stories of the underrepresented, forgotten and misunderstood”.
Newsfeed’s recent Webby Award audience award winner, ‘Rohingya through the eyes of Al Jazeera’s journalists’, also emerged with a silver medal in the Social Video, Impact category and a bronze medal in the Social Video, News and Information category.
The 2019 Emmy nominated virtual reality documentary boutique, ‘AJ Contrast’, emerged with two silver Telly wins for ‘Still Here’, the virtual meets augmented reality immersive project that looks at the challenges facing African American women who, after years in prison, struggle to reintegrate into gentrified New York City neighbourhoods. ‘Still Here’ premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won B2C Editorial Team of the Year at the 2020 Drum Online Media Awards.
“The playing field for video-driven media has never been more competitive,” said Dr Yaser Bishr, executive director of Digital at Al Jazeera Media Network. “I’m proud of our teams for demonstrating extraordinary diversity and innovation and for continually pushing the boundaries to create new shows that inform with heart. Our engagement numbers and awards across multiple categories indicate that our cutting edge AJ Digital teams continue to deliver news and information while reflecting the needs of our global audiences.”
Speaking to a diverse pool of 2020 entries against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, Telly Awards managing director Sabrina Dridje echoed the need to tell the stories of the underrepresented. “Now is a more important time than ever to give a platform to those creators bringing us global stories,” and to strive for “more equal playing fields for the marginalised,” she said.
Competitors in other categories included CBS Interactive (Telly Company of the Year), BBC Global, American PBS, Sony Music, Disney, ESPN Films, HBO Latin America, Conde Nast, Warner Bros and Nasa.
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