Global Voices’ Marcell Shehwaro is a Finalist for a 2015 Online Journalism Award

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 12.49.55 PMWe are thrilled to announce that GV writer Marcell Shehwaro is a finalist for a 2015 Online Journalism Award (OJA) in the category of online commentary, for her piece “In Syria We Have All Become Killers” from the series Dispatches From Syria: Marcell Shehwaro on Life in Aleppo.

The OJA awards have been honoring excellence in digital journalism around the world since 2000 and are administered by the Online News Association. Here's an excerpt from the Online News Association's award announcement, which also says the finalists “push the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution”:

A group of 134 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals teamed up to screen 994 entries and select semi-finalists. Fifteen judges representing a diverse cross-section of the industry then conferred to determine finalists and winners.

In Syria We Have All Become Killers

After learning that the checkpoint where her mother was murdered by Syrian regime soldiers has been obliterated by a bomb, Marcell writes in her nominated piece, “my ability to survive depends upon the death of others…and this is how the murderous regime will ultimately win, regardless of what political change awaits Syria.”

Marcell received strong support from the Global Voices community while crafting the 12-part Aleppo series, which was published in 2014. Her stories were edited by managing director Georgia Popplewell and MENA editor Amira Al Hussaini and the original writing in Arabic was translated into English by Amira AlHussaini and Lara Al Malakeh. Many members of our Lingua community helped in the subsequent translations into Spanish, Hebrew, French, Chinese, Korean, and German.

Ivan Sigal, our executive director explained the importance and relevance of Marcell's series in a nomination essay to ONA. Here's an excerpt:

Marcell is part of a community of writers and digital activists who participated in the original nonviolent reform movement in Syria. They are digitally networked journalists and activists closely tied to reform movements in other parts of the Middle East, and their habits of communication and communities are based in the culture of the Internet. As such, Marcell’s work is emblematic of the idea of online journalism – allowing us to hear voices and stories of people who had previously been subjects in the stories of outsiders. Marcell's voice is that of an insider reflecting her experience of the war in Aleppo for a global audience. Against odds she and her peers continue to insist on the need for human dignity, and on the power of stories about individual lives in the face of extreme violence and geopolitical manipulation.

The framing of Marcell's essays runs counter to a presentation of the Syrian war in which stories about extremism and polarization are emphasized. We rarely hear about the nuances and complexities of the lives of individual Syrians. In her writing, Marcell's voice turns and winds through her days as she struggles to survive and make sense of the collapse of her world, the murder of her mother at a government checkpoint, the dilemmas of her friends and their families, and dreams of a forgone past. She brings us the complexity of Syrian society, showing us the fractures, alliances and impossible choices made by individuals living through war. Her stories again and again shatter upon the reality of those choices, the knowledge that making them requires people who in normal times might be fair, compassionate and caring to choose violence as a means of security.

The Online News Association is a non-profit membership organization for digital journalists. The final award will be announced on September 26 at the 2015 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet.

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