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An anonymous citizen-shot video capturing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during last year’s Iranian election protest has won the prestigious George Polk Award for Videography Tuesday–meaning that paid journalists really must enhance their efforts to produce quality work.

In the 40-second video, a woman is seen lying on the street, surrounded by men with their hands placed over her heart. While more people gather, blood starts protruding out of her mouth and nose.

Established by Long Island University in 1949, the prestigious awards recognize local, national, financial and foreign reporting of all streams. Some of the well-known names who have received George Polk awards include Gay Talese and Walter Cronkite. Tuesday, however, was the first time in the foundation’s 61-year-long history that it has awarded an anonymous contestant. According to a CBC report the judges recognized his or her courage.

“This award celebrates the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cellphone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news,” said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards.

While I acknowledge the videographer’s valiance, his or her accomplishment has shed a new light on citizen journalism: now any person with a camera phone can not only do my job, he or she can also win my awards. And that scares me, a lot.

Here is a link to the video. Warning: It contains graphic content

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About the author

Joyce Yip was the Deputy Production Editor for the Summer 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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