The 2020 Gunnar Høidahl Award for Excellence in the Eurovision News Exchange has been presented to the Eurovision News Desk of the EBU's Spanish Member, RTVE. The award is for the quality and volume of RTVE’s national and foreign coverage and excellent planning information.
In the virtual News Assembly session on 18 November, the prize was accepted by Rosa Maria Loriente, Head of the EVN desk at RTVE.
Asun Gómez-Bueno, Director of International Relations, RTVE, and Vice-Chairperson of the EBU News Committee, reacted on behalf of RTVE: “This prize is always important but it has special meaning this year because it brings, at last, good news. Knowing the Geneva newsroom considers we deserve the Gunnar Høidahl Award gives us extra energy to face the days ahead and the reassurance we are walking on the right path.
“Now the whole world seems to be sinking - or is truly sinking- and our compass sometimes doesn't find the North, we know there is always someone in Geneva ready to help us find the way. That's why having their recognition is such a great present for us.
“When our EVN desk had to be closed due to the COVID threat and we had to learn how to deal with such a difficult situation and work remotely, it was thanks to our Geneva newsroom colleagues and our own IT department that we managed to keep on providing the rest of the newsrooms with material just as they expect from us, just as our commitment with the News Exchange tells us to do. Now we know we did it right.”
Special mention was also given to three other top-rated EBU Members: France Télévisions for increased domestic offers and provision of foreign coverage from Wuhan and Nagorno-Karabakh; Rai in Italy for wide-ranging coverage, especially stories showing the human impact of the pandemic; and LRT in Lithuania for diversity of stories, responsiveness, planning information and script quality.
The Gunnar Høidahl prize is awarded annually at the News Assembly. Nominees are put forward by the EBU's Geneva news editors and the winner is selected by the entire News Exchange team. This year's list, in alphabetical order:
Justyna Kurczabinska, Head of the Eurovision News Exchange and News Strategy, said: “I thought that we would not be able to choose the winner this year, simply because we have seen unparalleled commitment and efforts from almost every Member. The Eurovision News family deserves utmost recognition this year. And though these have been challenging months, this has been a unique moment to highlight why public service journalism and our work matters to society. And the Eurovision Family did exactly that. By exchanging compelling, important coverage, we have critically helped to inform citizens and this showed, both in offer and usage numbers.
“The Eurovision team felt that their Spanish colleagues at RTVE have kept the highest EVN offering and co-operation standards in the face of huge professional and personal pressures.”
2020 has been like no other year for public service media (PSM) organizations and the News Exchange, with breaking stories including wars, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, but with the added challenges of working from home, rather than in the field or from newsrooms, due to an unprecedented crisis.
Eurovision News, since first covering the virus on 9 January until the beginning of October, has delivered 13,000 News Exchange edits, 2,000 lives as well as 1,400 Social Newswire stories related to COVID-19, totalling more than 16,000 pandemic-related items in nine months, of which over 60% were provided by Members and the EBU. See the animation here.
A report from the EBU Media Intelligence Unit demonstrates the significance of news to PSM, with public organizations across Europe spending in excess of EUR 5.5 billion per year on news and current affairs output - and directly employing over 40,000 journalists in 2019.
The Eurovision News Exchange supports Members in delivering the most relevant news coverage through round-the-clock access to live and edited news stories, as they happen, across the globe.
The News Exchange is a unique service, based on the shared values of solidarity, reciprocity, and cooperation between EBU Members who have been sharing news content every day since 1962.
The service draws on the newsgathering resources of more than 70 EBU Members, sub-licensees and media partners worldwide, as well as the Eurovision News Events team and international organizations. The service also clears eyewitness media to provide Members with a rich source of news and sports news footage from around the world.
What sets the Eurovision News Exchange journalistically apart is that it puts at the centre a multitude of viewpoints and angles for a broader perspective, offering national and foreign coverage from Members.