Reposted from The Guardian
Al-Jazeera English has seen off competition from Sky News and the BBC to be named news channel of the year for the first time at the RTS television journalism awards. During an evening that was filled with tributes to Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria on Wednesday morning, the self-proclaimed "new kid on the block" al-Jazeera English took two awards. In addition to beating the BBC News Channel and Sky News to news channel of the year, al-Jazeera English also won the innovative news prize for its social media and Skype-based show The Stream: Bahrain.
However, it was still a good night for the BBC, with flagship BBC1 series Panorama's acclaimed care home investigation winning three RTS TV journalism awards, including scoop of the year. Sky News also fared well, taking home four awards, including special correspondent Alex Crawford winning television journalist of the year for the third year in a row. Crawforld paid tribute to Colvin, saying the awards were poignant, "on a day like today when Marie's death brought home not only just how dangerous our job is but also how important our job is".
RTS judges praised al-Jazeera English's frontline reporting of the Arab spring, the Tahrir square protests in Egypt and being the first on the scene to report the death of Muammar Gaddafi. The English language spin-off from Qatar-based Arabic broadcaster al-Jazeera, which is backed by the Gulf emirate, launched in November 2006.
"This is excellent news – and a tribute to the outstanding work of our dedicated staff who have helped to make al-Jazeera English one of the world's leading global news broadcasters," said the al-Jazeera English managing director, Al Anstey. "Al-Jazeera English has had the most incredible year: a year where people took to the streets in protest, the economic crisis unfolded across Europe, and the world witnessed the devastating impact of the tsunami in Japan. Al-Jazeera English was there to capture every moment, and it is an even greater privilege for our reporters and bureaus across the world to receive this award in recognition of our great work. We look forward to continue providing in-depth, award-winning coverage as al-Jazeera English grows in reach and popularity across the world."
Awards host Mark Austin, the ITV News presenter who knew Colvin from his extensive foreign assignments during his reporting days, said she did not do her job to win awards but because she "wanted to find out the truth. She was fearless … Marie Colvin was the real deal. I speak for everyone here when I say we will all miss her." Austin went on: "Despite that … and despite Leveson and all the problems we've faced in journalism over the last year, we should enjoy and celebrate our achievements."
Collecting the award at the ceremony in London for scoop of the year for its undercover investigation into care home abuse, the Panorama team also gave a rallying cry to the industry in light of the Leveson inquiry, saying: "In a year when there is a huge question mark over investigative journalism, this is television's answer." Panorama's other winners were Joe Casey, who was named young journalist of the year, and the programme also picked up the current affairs – home award.
BBC2's Newsnight was a double winner, picking up news programme of the year, while the show's economics editor, Paul Mason, was named best specialist journalist. Sky News's other awards included best presenter, for Anna Botting, and both the best home news coverage and the best international news coverage for its work during the UK riots and in Libya. The current affairs – international award went to Channel 4's ITN-produced documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields. Japanese broadcaster NHK picked up the RTS judges award for its footage of the tsunami that hit Japan last year, which was used around the globe.