Telling Stories from Karen State to Tasmaina

Henry Zwartz, a former Karen News journalist, now working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was nominated for a 2018 Walkley Young Journalist of the Year Award. The event took place in Sydney on Wednesday July 18. Henry’s nomination was for his visual documentation – The photo rich stories of Tasmania’s north-west – while working out of the ABC’s Burnie’s office in Tasmania.

Henry paid credit to his year at Karen News for kick-starting his career as a journalist.

“I picked-up all the building blocks I’m using now. I learnt people are the focus of the stories and stories are people. To look at how policy impacts on people’s lives, the impacts that matter. For instance, if a refugee’s rice rations are cut…it’s the kids, elderly …the families who suffer.”

Henry points out that working in the peaceful surrounds of Tasmania is a long way from the armed conflict ridden hills of Eastern Burma – landmines, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people.

“The same thought process is applied – who’s hurting. I learnt by watching and working with talented people. I was encouraged to find stories and to argue why they mattered. I was taught to go beyond the armed conflict and find out how families were coping with the loss of their land, schools and security.”

Henry explained that he still uses the same Karen News criteria to guide his reporting in Australia.

“Working in a small team at Karen News was a fantastic experience, it exposed me to using photography, as well as writing, to tell stories. The Karen News journalists are reporting about their communities in East Burma, and it was an honour to work alongside them.

“Getting the chance to work on a wide range of stories, like the stigma of HIV/AIDs in Burma, the plight of Karen refugees, and the struggles of migrant workers in Thailand, was invaluable. Not many journalists get the chance and I feel very lucky to have spent my time with Karen News.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without the experience I gained at Karen News. Reporters Saw Blacktown, Saw Mort and Phil Thornton showed me what it takes to be a good journalist.”

Henry congratulated the winner of his category, Emily Verdouw for her winning entry – Dangerous Games.

“It is an honor to be nominated – being a Walkley finalist, is a win in itself.”

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