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Anonymous Citizen Journalists Receive Polk Award for YouTube Video

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The anonymous Iranian citizens who captured and distributed the shooting death of a demonstrator during last year’s Iranian re-election protests have received one of journalism’s highest honors — the Polk Award. The announcement marks the first time that the award was given to an anonymous news source.

Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian demonstrator who was shot and killed during a protest in Tehran last year, became a symbol of the Iranian resistance not long after the shocking video of her death began appearing on YouTube and other video sharing sites. According to the NY Times, the video was originally sent to Voice of America, The Guardian newspaper and five others in Europe, asking those who received it to pass it along. It was an Iranian expatriate in the Netherlands who first posted the video to Facebook, which started its online distribution.

The Polk Awards recognized the video producers despite the anonymous nature in which it was created and distributed. “This video footage was seen by millions and became an iconic image of the Iranian resistance. We don’t know who took it or who uploaded it, but we do know it has news value,” award curator John Darnton said in a statement.

The Polk Awards were established in 1948 to honor CBS reporter George W. Polk, who died while covering the Greek civil war. The awards are given out by Long Island University and are considered one of the top honors for journalism in the U.S.

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