IFJ Announces Nominees For Real Life Matters Journalism Prize for Reporting Drugs and HIV-AIDS

The International Federation of Journalists today announced the two nominees for the Real Life Matters competition for quality journalism reporting on the drugs and HIV-AIDS crisis in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Newly-Independent States of the former Soviet Union (NIS).

The two Real Life Matters nominees were selected from a large number of entries from the CEE/NIS, a region where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

The two nominees are: Valentina Akimova (from Russia) for her article "Street Walker" published in Kuzbass and Abdulfattoh Shafiev (from Tajikistan) his report "The Life of Drug Users in Tajikistan" broadcast on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Tajik Service.

Both nominees will receive a scholarship to participate in the 15th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm in Melbourne, Australia, on 20-24 April 2004. The winner will be announced during a special prizegiving ceremony to be held during the IFJ's XXV World Congress in Athens, Greece, on 25-30 May 2004.

Christopher Warren, President of the IFJ, will present the winner with a certificate and a cash prize of US$ 2,000 awarded by the International Harm Reduction Development Programme of the Open Society Institute.

The Real Life Matters competition seeks to promote journalistic excellence and foster wider understanding and awareness of the complex realities of drug users and people with HIV/AIDS. In so doing, the Prize recognises the media’s responsibility in raising public awareness and safeguarding the fundamental rights of drug users and people with HIV/AIDS, while underpinning the values of professionalism, journalists’ ethics and media diversity.

"Our nominees represent the cream of fair and accurate reporting that is vital to raising public awareness of and shaping national and international responses to drug use and HIV/AIDS,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Their work and that of all of our entries shows that there is an alternative to news stories that portray drugs users and people with HIV/AIDS only in terms of the threat they pose to others. Their work gives a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard."

The shortlist was drawn up by an independent Jury who met in Brussels on Saturday 20 March 2003.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries