Baloch journalist Shah Meer Baloch won the prestigious Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism in Freelance category for reporting on slave mining, child labour and the systemic negligence of polio vaccination programme in Pakistan.
Kurt Schork award, named after the American freelance journalist who died in a military ambush in 2000, is awarded annually by the Thomson Reuters Foundation – the charitable arm of the news conglomerate Thomson Reuters – to honour “brave, yet often unrecognised journalists for their reporting on conflict, corruption and injustice.” The award comes with a cash prize of $5000.
Baloch was awarded for his reporting on child labour in Balochistan’s coal mines, the persecution of the Kalasha community in Hindu Kush Mountains and the systemic government negligence in the Polio vaccination programme. The judges highlighted that the personal risk in “tackling such stories in Pakistan cannot be understated” and that Shah Meer Baloch “has demonstrated admirable moral determination” in bringing these stories to attention.
“For me, reporting conflict in complex ways is quite crucial because the best journalist is not only reporting contemporary hearings but they are also documenting history. History, itself, is not made by the famous people which is why, I write the stories of ordinary people whose extraordinary actions and experience create social change”, Baloch said in a video message to the Foundation, thanking them for the award.
Baloch has graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Media Communications. He has pitched articles for international newspapers like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, DW News and several others. He currently covers South Asia and especially Pakistan for UK-based newspaper The Guardian.
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, the jury for the freelance category entries this year included The New York Times author Tina Rosenberg, The New Yorkers’ Jon Lee Anderson and The Intercept’s Peter Mass.
Anderson congratulated Baloch on winning the award. “The 2020 Kurt Schork Freelancer Award cannot have found a more deserving recipient than @ShahmeerAlbalos [Shah Meer Baloch]”, he said in a tweet.