AJ Contrast wins Gracie Award

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Al Jazeera Digital’s story studio wins for an interactive site that highlights the challenges women with disabilities face when navigating megacities.

Al Jazeera’s studio for immersive storytelling and media innovation, AJ Contrast, has won a prestigious Gracie Award for the second year running.

Now in their 47th year, the Washington, DC-based awards — hosted by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) — recognize excellence in work produced by, for, and about women.

Al Jazeera Digital’s all-female AJ Contrast team won the coveted award in the Website ‐ Information/Entertainment category on April 13 for Inaccessible Cities, an interactive site that takes audiences into the life experiences of three women with disabilities as they struggle to navigating their lives in Mumbai, Lagos and New York.

More than a billion people—about 15 percent of the world’s population—experience some form of disability. Many of them live in urban areas.

The Inaccessible Cities site launches with a simple question, “How would you get through a megacity if you couldn’t walk, see signs, or hear cars passing?”

The project follows in the footsteps of AJ Contrast’s multi-award-winning virtual and augmented reality experience, Still Here, which examines the effect of incarceration and gentrification on black women in the United States. And as with Still Here, the goal of Inaccessible Cities is to raise awareness about an important but often neglected topic, said Zahra Rasool, head of AJ Contrast.

“We wanted to show how a lack of accessible public transport and infrastructure prevents people with disabilities – especially women with disabilities – from participating fully and independently in society,” said Rasool.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the Gracie’s,” she added. “Our goal is to continue to inspire a new standard for digital news content that is fully inclusive for people with disabilities and to raise awareness of their challenges by partnering with journalists with disabilities, local talent and, most importantly, the incredible women who are the subject of this interactive experience.”

The announcement marks the second consecutive year that Al Jazeera Digital has won in the prestigious competition, with Rasool and Malika Bilal – host of Al Jazeera Digital’s news and current affairs podcast, The Take – taking home wins for Best Online Producer and Best Podcast Host in 2021. respectively.

Gracie honorable mentions were also given to Sandra Gathmann, the host of AJ Digital’s news and current affairs series, Start Here, and to Stacey Samuel in the Podcast Producer category for The Take.

“We couldn’t be more proud of AJ Contrast,” said Carlos van Meek, Al Jazeera Digital’s director of innovation and programs. “Regardless of the myriad challenges raised during the pandemic, the small but driven AJ Contrast team has continued to innovate and put themselves at the center of important stories. We are extremely proud of their achievements.”

Sponsored by a host of industry heavyweights, including CNN, HBO, Premiere and Audacy, this year’s Gracie Awards will take place May 24 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.

The full list of Gracie winners can be found in their winners gallery.



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