BOSTON, Mass. — It was announced today that GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Tracey Shelton has been awarded the prestigious Polk Award for Video Reporting for her work in Syria. Ranked among America's most coveted journalism honors, the George Polk Awards are administered by Long Island University and memorialize CBS correspondent George W. Polk, who was slain covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. The awards will be given at a ceremony in New York City in April.
“It is a rare breed of journalist who puts their life on the line by going deep inside the world’s most dangerous conflicts,” said GlobalPost Editor Thomas Mucha. “In Syria, Tracey Shelton put herself in dangerous situations to give face and voice to victims and to reveal the human toll of the conflict. Few journalists have the diligence, courage and journalistic skill to deliver from a war zone. And, there are very few who do it better than Tracey Shelton.”
In announcing the award, Long Island University wrote that Shelton’s work was given the award for “communicating the human tragedy of the conflict in Syria in a way that is impossible to ignore or forget.”
From her base in Turkey, Shelton made frequent trips inside Syria—often being smuggled in and out under the cover of darkness—where she opened channels of communication, built a network of sources, and through months of on-the-ground reporting, produced a steady stream of authoritative writing and gripping video. Her most viscerally engaging work comes from the use of powerful video and images to tell poignant stories born from the violence of war that are at once shocking and mesmerizing.
In the video report “Life and Death in Aleppo,” Shelton takes viewers on patrol with a group of rebel soldiers, telling the story of Issa, Ahmed and Qasim in the days before—and then at the very moment—they are killed in their back-alley post by a tank blast. The images she captured are among the most extraordinary to emerge from Syria, leaving those who see them with a searing impression of the suddenness and devastating speed at which tragedy strikes in a conflict.
Her other work in Syria includes “Surviving Aleppo,” in which viewers are taken to the horrific aftermath of a helicopter bombing attack and go shoulder-to-shoulder with those digging through the rubble to find survivors. Just as all hope seems lost, a “miracle” emerges: a one-year-old boy who survives unscathed by the the blast that killed his parents, his cousins and all of his siblings. In the video, “One hospital's story,” medical staff try to save the wounded over a backdrop of chaos as a doctor describes how Assad’s forces have targeted their hospital. The impact of the conflict on a human scale is once again exposed in excruciating visual detail and juxtaposed against the abject desperation of one doctor, working 24 hours a day to save lives. He laments: “We are tired. We are tired of seeing the people dead.”
Other news organizations that were honored with the Polk this year include: CBS News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg News, among others.