Vusula Alibayli and Huseynbala Salimov, correspondents with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, both won the prestigious "Media Key-2011" award during a January 10 awards ceremony in Baku. Radio Azadliq, as the service is known locally, is the first international news outlet to receive the award, which recognizes excellence in Azerbaijan's domestic media. Previously in 2009, two Radio Azadliq reporters also won a “Media Key” award for their reports exposing corruption and modern women’s issues.
Alibayli, Radio Azadliq’s "queen of comedy," was honored as "Investigative Journalist of the Year" for her reporting on government waste and the plight of illegal migrant workers in Azerbaijan and for her work as the moderator of Azadliq’s satire show, "250 Seconds +." Similar in format to "The Daily Show” in the United States, the show was recognized for “innovation in new media”
at last year's "Blogosfer" convention in Azerbaijan.
Salimov, who is a current affairs analyst for Radio Azadliq, won the award for "Political Commentator of the Year." According to Salimov, "The fact that this nomination exists shows that our society is in need of serious journalism, analysis and interpretation of events."
The “Media Key” award is considered to be one of Azerbaijan's most prestigious journalism prizes. It has been awarded since 1997 by the Azerbaijan Union of Journalists, a media advocacy group, and "Yeni Nasil,” or “New Generation,” one of Azerbaijan's most active media advocacy groups.
“The government in Azerbaijan cannot criticize us because we follow professional standards of journalism and stand out within the local media environment,” explains Radio Azadliq’s director, Kenan Aliyev.
Radio Azadliq’s coverage of local issues has garnered international as well as local attention. Radio Azadliq’s reporters risk their lives
in order to report on issues
that matter to ordinary citizens.
See Radio Azadliq’s Alibayli and Salimov accept their awards in this video of the award ceremony
-- Deana Kjuka