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Asia Society Announces 2006 Winners of the Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism

Apr 20, 2006
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Barbara Demick of the Los Angeles Times and Matthew McAllester of Newsday Honored for Examinations of North Korea and Nepal

NEW YORK CITY, April 20, 2006 - Asia Society today awarded Barbara Demick of the Los Angeles Times and Matthew McAllester of Newsday the prestigious Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism. Norman Pearlstine, Senior Advisor to Time Warner and former editor-in-chief of Time Inc., chaired the independent jury that oversees the prize selection process and will present each of the winners with a $5,000 award at a public program to be held June 1st at Asia Society world headquarters in New York.

In announcing the award, Mr. Pearlstine praised Ms. Demick and Mr. McAllester for addressing difficult to cover topics in a way that made them both accessible to new readers and also provided new insights to experts.
"To say that North Korea and Nepal are countries that pose immense challenges to reporters is an understatement," commented Mr. Pearlstine. "Exhibiting the highest standards of journalism, Barbara Demick and Matthew McAllester have penetrated the surface of these societies to expose the struggles of daily life that more of us need to know about."

The Los Angeles Times Seoul Bureau Chief since 2001, Demick brings readers face to face with the reality of daily life in impoverished and isolated North Korea. Demick spoke with North Korean defectors, aid workers, and residents who had fled to the Chinese border and was even able to travel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to write several remarkable stories, including a detailed and startling two-part piece on the desperate hunger and privation facing residents of the city of Chongjin.

Prior to joining the Los Angeles Times, Demick served as the Philadelphia Inquirer's Middle East correspondent, based in Jerusalem and Cairo (1997 to 2001), and Eastern Europe correspondent, based in Berlin and Sarajevo (1993 to 1997). She also covered campaign finance and investigative projects for the Washington bureau and worked in New York as a Wall Street correspondent and business writer. Born in New Jersey, she received her B.A. from Yale University and completed a Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University. She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood, published in 1996 by Andrews & McMeel.

For his prize-winning series on Nepal, Newsday's Matthew McAllester spent a month traveling in Nepal, sometimes on foot, with staff photo-journalist Moises Saman. The Newsday series - animated by Saman's powerful photographs - highlighted the human rights problems plaguing Nepal as the Himalayan country teeters on the brink of civil war. The Maoists' use of forced and child labor, the King's seizure of power and repressive rule, the widespread disappearance of citizens, the emergence of well-armed vigilante groups are all explored in a fascinating and comprehensive look at the situation in Nepal.

McAllester joined Newsday in 1996, first as a Long Island reporter and then a cyberspace reporter and columnist, before joining the foreign desk in 1998. He has served as a Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem and has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Northern Ireland conflict, the situation in Burma, and the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. McAllester was born in London and raised in Edinbugh, Scotland. He attended the University of Sussex and received a Masters degree in English at Clark University. He is the author of two books: Beyond the Mountains of the Damned: The War Inside Kosovo, published in 2002 by New York University Press; and Blinded by the Sunlight: Emerging from the Prison of Saddam's Iraq, published in 2004 by HarperCollins.

The "Oz Prize" honors legendary journalist and author Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and one of the leading figures in the history of American journalism. The Oz Prize is awarded annually to a writer who has produced the best example of journalism about Asia in print or online during the calendar year.

Previous winners have included Philip P. Pan (2005) and John Pomfret (2004) of the Washington Post, as well as Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times (2003). Criteria for the prize include consideration for the impact of the work, its originality, creativity, depth of research, and educational value in informing the public about Asia.

In addition to Mr. Pearlstine, the jury for the Osborn Elliott Prize includes Carroll R. Bogert, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch; Ian Buruma, noted author and Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College; Henry Cornell, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs and Asia Society trustee; Barbara Crossette, author and contributor to the New York Times; Joe Klein, best selling author and columnist for TIME; Joseph Lelyveld, former executive editor of the New York Times; Seth Lipsky, editor of the New York Sun; and Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International.

The award will be presented at a public program on June 1 at the Asia Society in New York City, which will involve prize jurors Pearlstine and Zakaria in conversation with the honorees. For program details, visit www.asiasociety.org.

About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading global organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States. We seek to enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture. Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.asiasociety.org.