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Middle East Eye short-listed for top media awards

Nominations focus on MEE reporting from Syria, Yemen and Turkey
Peter Oborne, pictured here in Sanaa, has been nominated for his writing on Yemen (Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi/MEE)

Middle East Eye has been selected in four major categories to vie for prestigious media awards.

The site was nominated for breaking news story, freelance writer, national site and commentary/blogging when the shortlist for the Online Media Awards was announced on Friday.

David Hearst, Middle East Eye's editor-in-chief, said: “These nominations are recognition of the fact that Middle East Eye is now essential reading for anyone with an interest in the MENA region and its relationship with the rest of the world.

"MEE has established itself as a trusted and authentic voice that is building bridges, challenging dominant narratives - and growing its audience and influence week by week."

Breaking News Story of The Year

MEE had covered the desperation of life in eastern Aleppo for months before the end of the siege in December 2016, cultivating a network of local correspondents including Zouhir Al Shimale.

Reporter Areeb Ullah broke the world exclusive about the UN-brokered ceasefire that finally brought a halt to the fighting, and reported live on the mass protests in London.

Food stalls in Aleppo reopen in August 2016 after a recent siege was lifted (MEE/Zouhir al-Shimale)
He also interviewed trapped American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem via Facebook live as bombs rained down in the final days of the enclave.

Other nominees include Al Jazeera English for its coverage of the Turkey coup and ITV News for its reporting on the EU referendum result.

Best Freelance Writer

In a year when events in Turkey have dominated world news headlines, Suraj Sharma has established himself as an ever-present, even-handed and authoritative voice in a country where independent-minded journalists are routinely jailed and intimidated.

A Yes referendum poster campaign in Cankiri, Anatolia in March 2017 (Suraj Sharma/MEE)
During the failed July coup Sharma filed thousands of words and multiple stories that caught the mood of a nation standing on a precipice. Since then he has covered the purges of public officials, complaints about Turkey’s drift towards authoritarianism and a poignant piece on Turkey’s fractured psyche after the New Year’s Eve bomb attacks.

He has also found time to cover lighter subjects, such as tracing Boris Johnson’s Turkish roots to a village in central Anatolia - where the local headman pledged to sacrifice a herd of sheep in honour of the British foreign secretary.

The other nominees are Danielle Rossingh and Motez Bishara, who both write for CNN.

Best Commentary/Blogging

A young girl in Sadaa, Yemen (Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi/MEE)
Peter Oborne was the first Western correspondent to be allowed into the Houthi stronghold of Saada in Yemen, speaking to doctors who revealed that babies were dying in their incubators for lack of basic medicines.

He also highlighted the existence of cluster bombs months before the UK government was forced to admit that British-made munitions had been dropped in Yemen.

Oborne exposed the lie told by then-prime minister David Cameron about Suliman Gani, an imam from Tooting, who was falsely accused of being a supporter of Islamic State during the London mayoral campaign.

Oborne’s series of articles eventually forced an apology and retraction from the UK government.

Last year, Oborne won the Online Media Award for best freelance writer for his reporting from Damascus. The other nominees this year include Robert Peston at ITV News and Guardian Opinion.

Best National News Site

Middle East Eye itself was also nominated in the National News category. The other nominees include BBC News, ITV News, the Daily Mirror and the Independent.

The awards take place in London on 1 June.