Ex-Glasgow Guardian writer wins DuPont award

Published

University of Glasgow Main Building

Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Madeleine Baker

Jasmine Urquhart
Deputy News Editor

Edit: an earlier version of this article stated that Amy McKinnon’s piece prompted the start of the “OorJohn” campaign. This was in fact already in existence before the writing of her article.

Journalist Amy MacKinnon has won the prestigious DuPont award, regarded as the “Pulitzer of Broadcasting” for her reporting on the LGBTQ+ crisis in Russia.

The former Glasgow Guardian contributor travelled to the country in 2016 to investigate why homophobia is so prevalent in the largest country in the world.

The award-winning radio documentary, entitled “Russia’s New Scapegoats” was lauded as “nuanced and courageous” by the Columbia School of Journalism.

The report was aired on 390 radio stations across the USA and was listened to by “hundreds of thousands of podcast listeners” according to Jake Tapper, journalist and one of the hosts of the prestigious awards.

The winners were announced on 7 December 2017 by the Columbia School of Journalism in New York City, and included CNN, CBS, ABC and the New York Times.

MacKinnon said: “It was a huge honour to have our work recognized by the duPont awards, especially as such a new organisation. Coda Story launched in January of 2016 and we reported this story just four months later.”

“More than anything, I’m glad that the issue itself, the political scapegoating of LGBTQ people in Russia, has gotten the recognition it deserves. When the Russian gay propaganda law was passed there was a surge of attacks against LGBTQ people.”

“In demonstration of how relevant the issue still is, I was already planning my reporting trip to St Petersburg, booking in interviews, when I heard the news that Dmitry Tsilikin, a local journalist, had been murdered in a suspected homophobic hate crime. So that’s where the episode begins, with Dmitry’s death.”

MacKinnon also received the Amnesty International Award in 2012 while still an undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow after her report on the case of the deportation of John Oguchukwu was published in the Views section of this paper.

Her piece detailed how Oguchukwu, a business student at the university, was forcibly removed from the UK, despite having lived here for ten years after seeking asylum based on the persecution of people in his home country, Nigeria.

On her start in journalism, MacKinnon said it was while “writing for the Glasgow Guardian in my final year as an undergraduate.

“Journalism can be a a daunting industry to break into these days, but student media is an indispensable training ground for the next generation of reporters. I wouldn’t be working as a journalist now without that start at the Glasgow Guardian.”

The radio documentary ‘Russia’s New Scapegoats’ can be listened to here:
https://play.radiopublic.com/reveal-j8gK18/ep/s1!c1a163fcb7dd6fef966c617a8fbf35a683b74359 and the accompanying article here:
https://www.revealnews.org/episodes/russias-new-scapegoats/