Jose Sarito Amaral, Balibo – The Jornal Independente newspaper has been awarded Timor-Leste's media outlet of the year prize in the National Press Council's 2019 awards.
Rigoberto Monteiro, executive director of Timor-Leste's Press Council, said the Independente took out the award because of the quality of its stories and "strict adherence to the journalism code of ethics compared to other major media".
Virgilio Da Silva Guterres, president of the Press Council, said although the Independente was one of the smaller media outlets in the country, its commitment to "writing balanced news and obeying the journalism code of ethics" gave it an edge over other media outlets.
Accepting the award, Jose Sarito Amaral, director of the Independente, said he was "very grateful that the Press Council and jury team [had] recognised Jornal Independente as the best media in Timor-Leste."
Amaral said he promised to continue motivating his journalists to improve the quality of their work.
Introduced in 2017, the Press Council Awards recognise the critical role media plays in access to information and freedom of speech. The award comes with prize money of US$1500 and a trophy.
The award also marked the assassination of five Australian-based journalists at Balibo, Timor-Leste, on 16 October 1975, shortly before the invasion of the country by neighbouring Indonesia and the later killing of Roger East, who set up an East-Timor news agency.