U of T student wins inaugural journalism award
September 19, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
TORONTO - University of Toronto student Aidan Fishman has won the inaugural Blankfeld Award for Quality Journalism from media watchdog organization HonestReporting.
Winnipeg native Fishman, 20, has just started his third year of a double major undergraduate program in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. Since he began writing about Israel, the Middle East and local Jewish affairs last year, his op-eds have appeared in the Winnipeg Jewish Review and the Jerusalem Post, and he recently started blogging for the Times of Israel website.
“I’d like to clear the air and dispel some of the classic clichéd narratives that we see with regard to Israel,” said Fishman. “It’s not just that I feel a sense of loyalty to the state of Israel as a Jew and a Zionist. Unfortunately, the knowledge or perception gap between what your average Canadian or American citizen thinks about Israel and the reality on the ground in Israel and the surrounding countries is the worst out of any field. One of the tragedies of modern journalism is that people think they’re really well-informed...but the level of analysis is very shallow.”
Fishman beat out applicants from Canada, the US, South Africa and the UK to become the judges’ unanimous choice for the $2,000 prize. He said he was surprised and pleased to have won.
“It’s very important to me,” said Fishman, who added that he doesn’t get paid for his articles. “It’s very rewarding to be recognized and rewarded for a line of work that I didn’t get into in order to be rewarded.”
The award is dedicated to the memory of Eli Blankfeld, a journalist who documented Jewish life in Germany after World War II and during the period surrounding the creation of the state of Israel, after his parents and sisters perished in the Holocaust. It recognizes aspiring journalists who demonstrate a commitment to the values of objective and honest reporting, specifically in the field of the Arab-Israeli conflict.