Vienna: Winners honoured with Journalism Award “von unten” (from below) 2016

Excellent Contributions by Veronika Mauler, Klaus Unterberger, Yvonne Widler, Johanna Hager & Maria Kern, Christoph Reichl, Sabine Nikolay, Elisabeth Scharang & Lukas Tagwerker, Claus Pirschner & Rainer Springenschmid and Chrissi Wilkens.

On Monday, 19 December 2016, the Journalism Awards “von unten” were conferred for the seventh time in Vienna. The contributions are evaluated and selected by a jury of persons affected by poverty. Since 2010, the Austrian Anti-Poverty Network (Armutskonferenz) has conferred awards for “in-depth and respectful reporting on poverty”. All of the award recipients stressed that it was a special honour to them, because the awards are conferred by persons who know exactly what is at issue.

In the TV Category, Veronika Mauler was selected for her report aired on ORF ZIB-Magazin about a single working mother who does not earn enough to live on and is dependent the minimum living allowance from the state. Especially impressive for the jury was how well she presented the context of social security in such a “short, concise and easily understandable” manner. She depicted a woman living at financial subsistence level, showing what she is can be: an “active, engaged and caring” person.

The second award in the TV Category went to Klaus Unterberger for his documentary “Wohnen ein Luxus?” (Is housing luxury?) (ORF Menschen & Mächte). The reasons given by the jury: “The contribution is excellently researched and makes it clear that the problem is a European one. He presents a good overview with realistic examples and also gives the persons concerned a platform to speak.”

The main award in the Print Category was conferred to Johanna Hager and Maria Kern for their article “Ich finde es nicht lustig, dass ich vom Sozialstaat abhängig bin” (I do not think it is fun to have to depend on the social welfare state) published in Kurier. “Johanna Hager and Maria Kern do not use clichés, but rather paint a realistic picture. It is made clear that being a recipient of the minimum living allowance is often accompanied by existential fear and that this situation affects, above all, women and children.”

In the Print Category, the recognition award went to Johannes Reichl and the special feature “Schlaraffenland” (land of plenty) in the magazine MFG on the topic of the minimum living allowance. “The author gives an extensive and differentiated overview and supplies ample data on the lower level of the social safety net,” explained the jury in its comment.

In the Online Category, Yvonne Widler received an award for her articles in NZZ “Reise durch das arme Wien” (Trip through Poor Vienna) and “Jetzt stehe ich als armer Hund alleine da” (Now I stand here, poor and lonely). The reasons given by the jury: “Yvonne Widler paints sensitive and respectful portraits of homeless people. She approaches the world where these people live without voyeurism, while at the same time, showing the harsh living conditions.”

Second place went to Veronika Mauler for her contribution “Vom Leben am Minimum” (Living at the Minimum) published on “Respectful, authentic, objective but nonetheless full compassion,” commented the jury.

In the Radio Category, Sabine Nikolay was distinguished for her broadcast “Der Sozialstaat – Ein Erfolgsmodell auf dem Prüfstand” (“The Social Welfare State – Success Modell on Trial” (Ö1 Radiokolleg). The jury awarded the distinction for the “in-depth and clear” presentation. This Radiokolleg broadcast is a perfect starting point for a discussion of the present and future state of social security.”

The two recognition awards were conferred for two issues of the talk shows “Auf Laut” on FM4. The moderator Claus Pirschner and the journalists Rainer Springenschmid and Chrissi Wilkens were selected for the programme “Live aus Athen” (Live from Athens) broadcast on 18 October 2016. “The team addresses concrete living situations and are at the heart of events. The programme makes it clear that poverty does not fall from heaven, but is man-made.” This was the assessment of the jury.

Likewise, Elisabeth Scharang (moderation) and Lukas Tagwerker (journalist) were distinguished for the programme “Leben mit dem Mindesten” (Living on Bare Necessities) of 4 October 2016. The jury made special mention of the “sensitive moderation by Elisabeth Scharang. She asks questions as an interested person, leaves space for divergent opinions, while at the same time skilfully keeping in check divisive and defamatory statements during the interviews”.

Also on the shortlist for the journalism awards “von unten”: Ed Moschitz (ORF Am Schauplatz), Anna Thalhammer (Die Presse), Julia Schrenk (Kurier) and Heinz Niederleitner (Kirchenzeitung) who were praised for their work.