Fisk Wins Top Award

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ROBERT FISK, The Independent's Middle East correspondent, was last night declared the overall winner of the 1998 Amnesty International UK press awards for his reporting on Algeria.

The awards, for excellence in human rights reporting, cover categories from radio and television to print and photo journalism.

The citation for Fisk referred to the tremendous record he has established over many years for "intelligence, compassion and unswerving independence" in his reporting of the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa.

Mark Lattimer, director of communications at Amnesty International and one of the panel of five judges, said that the judges were particularly looking for those writers who accurately and vividly reported the news while at the same time bringing alive the reality of human situations as they were lived. Fisk, he felt, was driven by "an unceasing desire to find out what was going on on the ground, and who was responsible".

He was also "objective to a fault, but always on the side of ordinary people".

The other judges were Polly Toynbee of the Guardian, Nicky Campbell of Radio 5, Penny Smith of GMTV and Kirsty Young of Channel 5 News. Melvyn Bragg presented the awards.