"The Anonymous" Behind Neda Video Awarded Prestigious Polk
For the first time ever the Polk Award, one of the most prestigious in journalism, has been awarded to the unnamed people who shot, uploaded and distributed the now famous Neda video of a young woman dying in the streets of Tehran.
The award is being made anonymously to protect those involved in bringing it to global attention, despite the fact that the identities of some are a matter of public record. The video, shot on a cell phone camera in late June amid post-election protest and violence in Iran, was sent out of the country from its point of origin, uploaded on Facebook and YouTube, and distributed to the media, which eventually picked it up and made it viral worldwide. (Facebook removed the video the day after it was uploaded, citing a Terms of Service violation, but later allowed it to be reposted.)
It also marks the creation of a new category, videography, making it a double first for the 61-year-old awards.
John Damton, curator of the Polk Awards, said "This award celebrates the fact that, in today's world, a brave bystander with a cell phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news." Damton claims, "We don't know who took it or who uploaded it, but we do know it has news value."
The thirteen winners of the 2009 Polk Awards, in memory of former CBS correspondent George W. Polk, were announced Monday at Long Island University in New York. The awards will be given at a luncheon on April 8th in Manhattan.
Those involved in the Neda video, while not present and not named, have the honor of knowing they got the truth out to the public, in many cases at their own peril.