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African storytelling award to honour legacy of campaigner and journalist Michael Elliott

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As the CEO of the campaigning organisation ONE, Michael lobbied to improve the lives of all Africans - and as a journalist he championed great journalism as a tool for empowerment.


Michael Elliott had not one but two distinguished careers. 

As a journalist, he became editor of both TIME International and Newsweek International. As a campaigner and advocate, he led the ONE organisation for five years.

In both careers, he shone a light on people and their struggles for rights and equal opportunities. He was collaborative and encouraged everyone’s efforts to address and alleviate poverty.

Michael died in July – but his legacy will be recognised in a new journalism prize. The Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling will advance the work of an emerging journalist who strives to strengthen people’s voices and improve their wellbeing.

The award has been launched by the Elliott family, ONE and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

As the CEO of ONE, Michael lobbied to improve the lives of all Africans. A longtime board member of ICFJ, he also championed great journalism as a tool for empowerment.

Two days before he died, he gave a speech at a celebration of his work in Washington, DC. Talking about his hugely successful career, he said: “Through it all, what’s always inspired me is the resilience of ordinary people.

“From children carrying water for hours on the roads of Malawi to women coming in from their villages to markets in San Cristobal de las Casas or LiJiang or Elmina, to sell a few ears of corn or bunches of handcrafts.”

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, said: “Michael started as a prize-winning journlaist – but as he wrote he saw the horror of poverty round the world and joined ONE as director because he was determined to do something about it.”

Through it all, what’s always inspired me is the resilience of ordinary people. Michael Elliott

In his five years leading ONE, the organisation’s membership grew from two million to more than seven million, of which 2.8 million are in Africa.

Among his many honours, he was named as one of the world’s 25 inspiring CEOs by GoodNet in 2015.

The ICJF said: “Michael Elliott’s life was a testament to the power of storytelling to bear witness to and improve the human condition.

“We will issue a call for nominations and carefully vet applications, looking for a demonstrated commitment to social and development issues through quality storytelling. A distinguished jury will select the winner.

“As part of the award, the winner will spend time in US newsrooms to learn new skills and receive mentorship from ICFJ, helping to catalyse additional reporting that engages and empowers Africans.”

Donate to the Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling


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