Irrawaddy Founder Accepts Shorenstein Journalism Award

By The Irrawaddy 7 March 2014

The Irrawaddy magazine’s founding editor-in-chief Aung Zaw was honored with the 2013 Shorenstein Journalism Award from Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) on Thursday, becoming the first Burmese to receive the award.

The APARC said in an announcement earlier this year that The Irrawaddy founder was selected “for his leadership in establishing independent media in Myanmar [Burma] and his dedication to integrity in reporting on Southeast Asia.”

The Shorenstein Award “honors a journalist not only for a distinguished body of work, but also for the particular way that work has helped American readers to understand the complexities of Asia,” according to APARC.

The Irrawaddy was founded in Thailand in 1993, intended to serve as a source of information on hermetic Burma in the wake of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors there in 1988. Today, The Irrawaddy reports from a local office in Rangoon, Burma’s commercial capital, and produces two publications: The Irrawaddy monthly newsmagazine in English and a Burmese-language weekly of the same name, featuring in-depth analysis, news features and interviews with experts from Burma, as well as publishing contributors from around the world. In addition, daily coverage of Burma and Southeast Asia can be found on The Irrawaddy’s website, available in both English and Burmese.

Under Aung Zaw’s leadership, The Irrawaddy “emerged as an important news magazine not only for a muzzled Burma, but it also covered stories from all over Southeast Asia,” said Shorenstein jury member Nayan Chanda of Yale University’s Center for the Study of Globalization, upon the selection of Aung Zaw as the 2013 Shorenstein Journalism Award recipient.

“Aung Zaw’s contribution to bringing original news and analysis from Southeast Asia to the world cannot be overestimated,” the jury member added.

In addition to managing The Irrawaddy, Aung Zaw is a contributor for The New York Times, The Guardian, Bangkok Post, The Nation, and several other publications based in Europe. He is also author of the book “The Face of Resistance: Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Fight for Freedom.”

Before accepting his award on Thursday, Aung Zaw sat as a panelist for “Burma’s Democracy: How Real?”, a panel discussion at Stanford University focused on the future of democracy in Burma.

In 2010, Aung Zaw was awarded the Prince Claus Award for Journalism “for his active dedication to achieving democratic government in Burma,” the Prince Claus Fund said at the time.