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The Globe and Mail

Globe wins Foreign Press Association award for story on Syria’s civil war

Nov. 28: 2016: Syrian pro-government forces survey the ruined buildings of Aleppo, where rebels are fighting to hold on to eastern districts of the city against an assault by Mr. al-Assad’s regime.


The Foreign Press Association Awards have honoured Globe and Mail reporter Mark MacKinnon for Graffiti Kids, a feature about the teenagers who led a rebellion that sparked the Syrian civil war.

The story by Mr. MacKinnon, The Globe's senior international correspondent, traced the start of the bloody Syrian conflict to a simple act of rebellion by a 14-year-old boy with a can of black spray paint who wrote, "It's your turn, Doctor Bashar al-Assad," in February, 2011, under the window of the principal's office of an all-boys school. From that act of impetuousness flowed a conflict that devastated Syria, sent massive waves of refugees fleeing to Europe and drew in the United States and Russia. Mr. MacKinnon's story detailed the personal cost of that act as well: Naief Abazid and 22 other boys were arrested by the Syrian regime after the graffiti incident.

The article won the award for story of the year by a full member of the Foreign Press Association (FPA).

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"This global win is recognition of what happens when you ask a simple question – how did the Syrian war begin – and you allow a journalist to follow the thread through all its twists and turns," Globe editor-in-chief David Walmsley said. "The authority of Mr. MacKinnon's reporting and writing is unimpeachable. His storytelling brought a vital story to life."

Also shortlisted for the award was Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and CNN.

The Globe was the only Canadian publication nominated at the FPA Awards, held on Monday in London.

The FPA award is the third honour for the Graffiti Kids story. In May, Mr. MacKinnon won the National Newspaper Award for international reporting for a body of work that included it. In June, the piece won a gold for best feature article at the 2017 Digital Publishing Awards.

The FPA Awards, now in their 18th year, are described as an opportunity for British journalists to be feted by their international peers, but are attracting a growing number of entries from many of the world's major broadcasters, newspapers and news magazines, according to organizers.

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