Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012
by Cristi Hegranes, Founder & Executive Director
I am of the firm belief that Global Press Institute reporters and editors are the most inspiring human beings on earth.
Over the years, I have come to realize that there is a distinct commonality that links all 133 members of the GPI editorial team.
It is not bravery – though their routine exhibitions of bravery humble me. It is not passion – though their passion for their work stills my heart daily. And it is not dedication – though their tenacious dedication to the craft of journalism gives me deep and lasting pride.
What links them is a curious cocktail that is equal parts hope and indignation, with a garnish of compassion and a side of serious smarts.
As women who come from a vast range of circumstances and cultures, the reporters of GPI overcome obstacles, defy social norms and demand answers to the most difficult questions. They are constantly hopeful for the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. And they are indignant at every encounter with injustice. The results of their work have collectively yielded more change than even I ever thought possible.
But change doesn’t come easily. These women work harder than any people I have ever known.
They meet their deadlines so that lives can change faster. They demand accuracy from themselves and each other so that knowledge can spread farther. They rely on the necessity of story so that human beings can understand each other better. They do these things everyday because the vision of a more just world is constantly in their sights. And the understanding that their journalism is an active ingredient in changing this world is the fuel that keeps them up late and working harder everyday.
Thanks to each one of them, this was a transformational year for GPI. We won 3 major journalism and social justice awards. We added 7 new editors to our global team and garnered 8 new foundation partners. We opened our 26th news desk. We published hundreds of ethical, investigative feature news stories. We invested tens of thousands of dollars in women journalists around the world. And we offered our exceptional journalism to more than a million readers in 160 countries.
But at GPI we don’t just measure success by the numbers. We measure our success, in part, by the impact that our work provokes. This year, our news was responsible for the creation of one new law. Our reporting prompted at least 10 major donations to hospitals, schools and organizations featured in our coverage. More than 50 percent of GPI journalists reported that local NGOs and governments utilized their stories to provide greater access to authentic information locally. In our yearend evaluation, 95 percent of our journalists reported a greater sense of self-confidence since joining GPI. And 70 percent reported a greater ability to care for themselves and their families thanks to the strong wages they earn as professional reporters.
For me, it has been both humbling and inspiring to watch GPI journalists come into their own as investigators, writers, storytellers, community leaders, and agents of change. Their consistent and compelling progress as professionals made the selection of the top GPI stories of the year more difficult than ever before.
In the end, the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012 were selected based on traditional standards of journalistic excellence, local community impact, global readership analytics and storytelling innovation.
Congratulations to the 12 reporters honored below. And thank you to each and every GPI team member who worked tirelessly to demonstrate the potent power of principled journalism.
Love and thanks.
by Nakinti Nofuru, Senior Reporter
This article took a deep and insightful look into an issue that has gone unreported in other media. When women in Cameroon die during childbirth they are considered witches who do not deserve proper burial. This powerful piece of reporting spanned families of the deceased grieving over the practice; health professionals striving to raise awareness about the link between prenatal care and safe deliveries; and lawyers charging that the desecration of corpses is illegal. For her commitment to powerful storytelling and her brave pursuit of challenging issues that would otherwise go unreported, GPI salutes Nakinti Nofuru for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Mary Wairimu, Senior Reporter
This article is a rich demonstration of what can come from local, solutions-based coverage of social justice issues. A powerful narrative lead about a corrective rape that yielded both a pregnancy and an HIV infection evokes emotion and demonstrates the profound need for reporting of this kind. But it was the reporter’s commitment to not just covering a problem, but also to highlighting a local solution that won its place among the top 12. The article features a group of advocates who created a film festival to promote awareness and acceptance in what remains a largely homophobic society. For her ability to paint humanity with words and her dedication to finding local solutions to social justice problems, GPI salutes Mary Wairimu for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Gloriose Isugi, Reporter & Noella Nbihogo, Reporter
Among the first articles produced by the GPI Rwanda News Desk, this piece shed light on the social and health consequences created by sugar daddies – older men who offer schoolgirls cash, cell phones, clothes and transportation in exchange for sex – and explained how certain times of the school year create extra risks for local girls. The commitment to telling an accurate, authentic story took the reporters from boarding schools and bus depots, to health clinics and government offices. In the end, a story about a little-known social problem became a viral narrative that helped create greater awareness and sustained dialogue. For their commitment to using journalism to give voice to girls in Rwanda, GPI salutes Gloriose Isugi and Noella Nbihogo for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Apophia Agiresaasi, Senior Reporter
In October 2010, Apophia wrote an article that hailed Uganda for building Sub-Saharan Africa’s only pharmaceutical factory to manufacture antiretroviral drugs. As a result of the factory, Uganda’s HIV prevalence began to decrease. Her most recent report demonstrates the sustained need for trained local reporters, as opposed to occasional foreign correspondents. Apophia followed the issue closely over the years. Here, she utilized her deep network of sources to detail the funding crunch that decreased the number of people able to access the once-remarkable supply of medication. The article conveys deep urgency, as Uganda now faces an unprecedented rise in new HIV infections. For her sustained reporting on this critical issue and her ability to translate complex policies into actionable journalism, GPI salutes Apophia Agiresaasi for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Stella Paul, Reporter
Rather than simply tell a story about the continued injustices sex workers face in Indian brothels, Stella discovered an innovative local organization creating a solution to a tangential problem – daughters of sex workers who inherit their mother’s weak social status, which often includes a lack of education. This article told the story of one organization offering a solution to help girls escape from following in their mother’s professional footsteps – a safe place to live and access to the best local schools. The piece yielded several offers of support for the local organization. It was widely syndicated and was among the most-read articles of the year. For her commitment to solutions-based reporting on critical gender justice issues, GPI salutes Stella Paul for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Aliya Bashir, Reporter
In the history of GPI, few stories have created as much fervor as this one. This article artfully blended investigative research of the highest caliber with interviewing, writing and photography skills that conveyed the devastating spectrum of human grief. Earlier this year, Aliya discovered a troubling trend – as many as 13 infants per week were dying in a local children’s hospital. She spent weeks in hospital ward with parents as they watched their children die. Then, she followed a paper trail of government and hospital reports that blamed everything from faulty equipment to substandard medication and gross negligence by hospital staff for the deaths. Almost immediately after publication on the GPI Newsiwre this story became the most-syndicated article in our history. It has since prompted pledges of new hospital equipment by two organizations and provoked sympathy and outrage from readers across the world. For using the power of investigative journalism and the art of human-centered storytelling to shed light on gross medical negligence in Kashmir, GPI salutes Aliya Bashir for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
By Tara Bhattarai, Country Editor, Senior Reporter
For the last six years Tara has dedicated her life to learning the skills of journalism and using them to create a more just world for her fellow Nepalis. In January, she demonstrated the power of her practiced interview and research skills. This article elicits the intense disclosures of married women who are routinely raped by their husbands. Tara’s delicate demeanor during emotional interviews operates in sharp contrast to her bulldogged-tenacity when chasing down facts. The combination yields a provocative story about the changing cultures of marriage and law in the tumultuous democracy of Nepal. For her unmatched ability to give voice to silent citizens and her commitment to using journalism as a tool of social change, GPI salutes Tara Bhattarai for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Lochana Sharma, Senior Reporter
Reporting on stories that fuse political and religious tensions are always difficult. In this powerful article, Lochana demonstrated a deep commitment to fairness as she detailed the plight of Christians in Nepal who do not have dedicated burial grounds for their dead. A well-told story of religious tension between the Hindu majority and the Christian minority are set in the larger context of government pitfalls and accusations of environmental degradation. For demonstrating noteworthy objectivity that yielded clarity and justice for many, GPI salutes Lochana Sharma for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Manori Wijesekera, Reporter
This article is a testament to the power of explanatory journalism. Manori tackled an issue that found itself at the desolate crossroads of stigma and absence of information. Dementia is on the rise in Sri Lanka, but one would hardly know it since few medical professionals in the country are trained to diagnose it. This article shared the difficult stories of families desperate to care for relatives suffering from dementia – most memorably a woman who admitted to tying her mother to a beam during the day to keep her from harming herself – and the inspiring story of one local foundation working to raise awareness and offer much-needed care to Sri Lankans with dementia. For refusing to let local stigma prevent meaningful storytelling, GPI salutes Manori Wijesekera for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Dina Gonzalez, Reporter
This article generated both controversy and understanding in Argentina. For most, sex worker and prostitute are synonyms. But Dina delved deep into the clash between two groups of women fighting for greater rights and legislative action. While sex workers, women who say they choose to work in the profession, want prostitution legalized so they can have more freedom and even pay taxes, another group of women insists that prostitutes are victims and need government intervention and subsidies. This piece traced a complex debate and balanced sexual, feminist and political narratives with objective grace. It generated nearly 100 comments, tweets and other forms of online conversation in Argentina and around the world. For her commitment to fairness while covering a story rife with imperceptible politics, GPI salutes Dina Gonzalez for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Mayela Sanchez, Reporter
As the world prepared to inaugurate Enrique Peña Nieto as Mexico’s 57th president, Mayela focused instead on the alarming history of unresolved femicides the former governor was leaving behind in Mexico State. In her reporting she scoured court documents, spent time with families of murdered women, and spoke to experts who blamed changing cultural norms for unchecked domestic violence. Mayela alone called the world’s attention to Nieto’s troubling legacy – 89 percent of femicides remained unsolved in his state. For fearlessly holding the powerful accountable and investigating the human stories behind murder statistics, GPI salutes Mayela Sanchez for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.
by Luciana Groscu, Reporter
The collision of discrimination and technology in this article made it one of the most unique GPI produced this year. As part of GPI’s first pilot project in Romania, Luciana was able to vividly describe the pain of discrimination that disabled people routinely face. In addition to lacking physical access to sidewalks and buildings, she reported that social discrimination made it difficult for disabled young people to meet, socialize and find love. The article detailed this hardship but also highlighted a new website that made it easier for disabled people in Romania to find love. The piece offered a hopeful take on the modern love story and offered well-reported insight into how technology can help create a more just world. For her ability to marry social justice and technology to create a powerful portrait of human longing and human innovation, GPI salutes Luciana Groscu for producing one of the Top 12 GPI News Stories of 2012.