AWoN Practitioners: Winners of Journalist Award and the Amsterdammer of the Year

June 25, 2024
By Magdalena Wernefeldt

Last week, two of our practitioners received recognition for their outstanding work. Anna Alboth was awarded for her journalism, and AWoN director Rikko Voorberg was elected the Amsterdammer of the Year.

In a ceremony on 18 June 2024 in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe, five media professionals earned Journalism Excellence Awards for their work on “Ethical Media Reporting on Roma and Combating Racism and Antigypsyism through the Media.”

“This year’s winners send a powerful message to the whole society that Roma people are Europeans,” writes Eleni Tsetsekou, Head of Roma and Travellers Division, Council of Europe, who organised the awards.

Poignant journalism

Anna Alboth won in the category of Global Journalism. She received the award for her reportage “They Never Started Any War,” published in the Polish magazine, from Michael O’Flaherty, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The jury highlighted that Anna Alboth: “poignantly captures personal testimonies, illustrating the resilience and hopes of Roma individuals amid pervasive racism and violence.”

This award means the world to me. It is not just a journalistic recognition; it combines all the fields that are deeply important to me: media, minorities, and migration.

Severe discrimination

Her article sheds light on the severe discrimination faced by the Roma community in Ukraine and outside of Ukraine, exacerbated by the ongoing conflict with Russia.

It follows stories from Uzhhorod, where Roma children struggle to access education due to systemic barriers and describes the harsh realities for Roma families living without basic necessities and legal documentation, before and after Russian full scale invasion. It shows double standards in treatment of refugees in Europe but also brings some solutions.

Media, minorities and migration

“This award means the world to me. It is not just a journalistic recognition; it combines all the fields that are deeply important to me: media, minorities, and migration. This honour allows me to do what I love most: raising awareness, building bridges, and advocating through ethical media coverage of refugees, migrants, minority groups, new neighbours, and new friends in Europe. Addressing complex issues requires a deeper understanding, and I am thrilled that my work contributes to this goal”, says Anna Alboth.

Woman receiving diploma on stage.
Anna Alboth winner of the Journalists Excellence Awards 2024.
Family posing on stage with father winning an award.
Rikko Voorberg is elected the Amsterdammer of the year.

Amsterdammer of the year for making space for grief

Out of six candidates, AWoN director Rikko Voorberg earned the Amsterdammer of the Year award for his initiative on mourning and sorrow. For three years in a row, a glass greenhouse has been placed on public squares in Amsterdam and several other cities around Christmas time. It is open from 10 am to 10 pm for anyone to come, light a candle, and mourn. Volunteers are present to share the moment and to talk about grief.

Unifying people of all walks of life

“Honoured to be nominated and elected this year. It’s been my work for a long time already to create space for those themes that are hiding in the shadows. In this case it’s grief and mourning and it reaches thousands every year and is growing quickly. It has proven to be so unifying between people of all ages, walks of life and backgrounds. Grassroots action can really change the world, in the city of Amsterdam and anywhere”, says Rikko Voorberg.

The Amsterdammer of the Year Foundation organises an annual public election consisting of a nomination process, voting, and celebration. The foundation’s goal is to promote citizenship by highlighting ordinary Amsterdam residents who are committed to the city and showing all Amsterdam residents what they can do for their neighbourhood, neighbours, and city. The election has been organised since 2005.

EQUIROM Journalism Excellence Awards

The EQUIROM Journalism Excellence Awards were launched under the Joint EU/CoE program “Equality and Freedom from Discrimination for Roma”, EQUIROM with the aim of combating stereotypes in the media, raising awareness about the history and culture of Roma and other ethnic minorities, contributing to building positive narratives about Roma by journalists and other media representatives, ultimately driving a change in people’s perceptions. Applications are open to all journalists from the Council of Europe member states, including photographers, television journalists, and reporters.

EQUIROM aims to advance equality for Roma people in four Southern European countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Italy.