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Meet the winners of the Marcelo Jelen Award!

The journalists who received the distinction are Julieta Núñez-Tomas, for her article "No vale Copiar" published on the website "Sala de Redacción", and Cecilia Álvarez-Sandar, for her report, "Hijos Privados", printed in the La Diaria newspaper in Uruguay

RECORDS OF THE FIFTH Marcelo Jelen National Prize for the Written Press (Uruguay)

The jury of the Fifth Marcelo Jelen National Written Press Award, meeting by teleconference at 11 am on Friday, March 5, 2021, analyzed 23 articles, published in a dozen media throughout the country, which were presented under 14 signatures, meeting the requirements of the contest.

Before confirming its decision, the Jury wishes to reiterate some concepts about the contest, and the meaning of this recognition:

  • "The Marcelo Jelen Journalism Award seeks to highlight those journalistic works that are clear examples of what societies expect from this key institution for the system of checks and balances that must be fully operational to consolidate our democracies."
  • "We are looking for journalism that maintains vigilance over the powerful, be they governments, corporations, the Judiciary, parliaments, churches, NGOs, or social elites; to report with context, to investigate human rights violations, environmental crimes, cross-border problems and other contemporary cases."
  • "We have no doubt that professional, quality and ethical journalism is a key piece in the puzzle to achieve the sustainable development goals, that is, of more democratic societies, with more inclusive development and protecting and promoting everyone’s human rights."

As in previous editions, many of the articles presented this year have that profile of journalistic coverage that seeks to reveal the violation of the rights of the most vulnerable:

  • From allegations of police abuse, to forms of domestic violence, the risks of projects that affect the environment, the continued exclusion of vulnerable sectors of society, or the terrible evidence of the use of social networks in cases of sexual abuse of minors.
  • Impunity, a concept in force since the years of the dictatorship at the end of the last century, is reflected in present-day young people’s memory, in the lack of justice for cases of unclarified homicides or in sinister episodes where the responsibility of the State is not clarified.
  • Suspicions of corruption or collusion are reflected in cases linked to State agencies: from awards to companies that do not meet the established requirements or to companies linked to the environment of heads of public institutions, to political intervention in complaints related to alleged trafficking of minors.

However, once again the Jury – even considering the limitations and isolations caused by the times of pandemic, which have generated new forms of work, particularly in the area of communication – considers it necessary to warn about the situation that Uruguayan journalism is going through as a reflection of the loss of jobs and the concentration of media in a few economic groups.

  • Most of the articles nominated for the Marcelo Jelen Award 2020 have not reached the levels of previous editions and few of them reach the standards of excellence that are intended. Several of the articles analyzed do not transcend mere correctness, with limited sources and unpretentious in their writing.
  • Only one of the works presented uses the current rules of access to public information, a fundamental tool for journalism practice, overseeing public affairs, in defense of a fundamental right of all, guaranteeing other rights.
  • The jury reiterates that "it is necessary to go further"; and that hopes that "the award will be an encouragement in the unceasing search for excellence, which, at the end of the day, translates into a search to make institutions and the people who manage them accountable to society as a whole."

Again, the Jury used the methodology of successive classifications of critical analysis and debate on each work, but unlike previous editions there was rapid agreement in highlighting the articles to finally be awarded.

The Jury decides:

1 - To award the Fifth Marcelo Jelen National Prize for Written Press, shared, to journalists: Julieta Núñez-Tomas (for her article "No vale Copiar" published on the website "Sala de Redacción" on October 12, 2020) and Cecilia Álvarez-Sandar (for her report "Hijos Privados", printed in the La Diaria newspaper on December 5 and 9, 2020).

The research of Julieta Núñez-Tomas, arising from her final degree project in the Bachelor's Degree in Communication of the Faculty of Information and Communication, crudely reflects a snapshot of Uruguayan journalism that should alarm everyone and on which it is essential to act to end a scourge resulting from neglect or self-interest.

The complaint about the delivery of children of people with intellectual disabilities in the report by Cecilia Álvarez Sandar, exposes the situation suffered by a vulnerable sector of society and the interference that politics has in a case that has already led to the judicial scenario, where responsibilities must necessarily be clarified.

2 – The Jury also wants to recommend to the institutions convening the Marcelo Jelen Prize that, in future editions, together with a main prize, mentions by categories be awarded to the journalistic articles that are entered, which includes the column (the style in which Marcelo Jelen stood out), the interview (presented in dialogue), the scoop (news of major annual repercussions), the story (highlighting the literary aspect) and the report (as an investigative report) and other styles of written press. For the Jury of the Fifth National Marcelo Jelen Prize for Written Press, we sign: :

Constanza Narancio (UN Women),
Rosa María González (UNESCO),
Lucy Garrido (Cotidiano Mujer),
Carolina Molla (CAINFO),
Roger Rodríguez (Journalist).

March 5, 2021.