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ONA awards: Star series on Somalia nominated

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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The Star’s Michelle Shephard and Randy Risling have been nominated for an Online Journalism Award for their one of their gripping series of video documentaries from the most dangerous place on earth.

“Somalia: Where Famine is a Crime,” is honoured in the explanatory reporting category for large news organizations.

It tells the story of 3-year-old Abdisalam Osman, who weighed only 14 pounds when he arrived at a hospital in the capital of Mogadishu suffering from acute malnutrition, measles and tuberculosis.

Their gripping on-the-ground stories and videos from Somalia told the human and political stories behind a failed state where the worst drought in 60 years had killed 29,000 children. Abdisalam, it seemed, would become one of them.

The series won a 2011 National Newspaper Award for videojournalist Risling and Shephard, the Star’s national security reporter.

“We’re incredibly honoured by the nomination and just really indebted to all those who helped us on the ground in Mogadishu. It was really a team effort and hope it helped raise awareness at a terrible time,” said Shephard.

She and Risling have kept in touch with the doctor and the little boy who has recovered and “is thriving,” she said.

“It’s a great honour and example of the Star’s ongoing commitment to investing in quality long-form journalism,” said Risling, who is currently on assignment covering the U.S. political scene.

“The fact that little Abdisalam has made a full recovery makes it that much sweeter.”

Also nominated is work by the New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian and the U.S. public broadcaster National Public Radio.

The Online News Association is the world’s largest organization of online journalists. This is the 12th year for the awards, which will be announced Sept. 22 in San Francisco.

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