For a second consecutive year, Al Jazeera’s immersive storytelling and media innovation studio, AJ Contrast, has won a prestigious Gracie Award. Now in its 47th year, the Washington DC based Gracie’s are hosted by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) and recognise excellence in work produced by, for and about women.
This year, Al Jazeera Digital’s all woman, AJ Contrast team won for best National Website in Entertainment and Information for Inaccessible Cities, a first-of-its-kind immersive and interactive site that brings audiences into the lived experience of three women with disabilities who must struggle to navigate their lives in Mumbai, Lagos and New York.
More than one billion people — approximately 15 percent of the global 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 around a megacity if you couldn’t walk, see signs or hear cars passing by?”
The immersive website follows in the footsteps of AJ Contrast’s multiple award-winning virtual and augmented reality experience, Still Here, which explores the impact of incarceration and gentrification on Black women in the US. As with Still Here, the aim of Inaccessible Cities is to generate awareness on an important but often neglected issue, says Zahra Rasool, Head of AJ Contrast.
“We wanted to show how a lack of accessible public transport and infrastructure prevent people with disabilities – especially women with disabilities – from fully and independently participating in society,” Rasool said.
“It’s a great honour to be recognised by the Gracie’s,” she said. “Our aim is to continue inspiring a new standard for digital news content that’s fully inclusive of people with disabilities and to bring awareness to their challenges through collaboration with journalists with disabilities, local talent and, most importantly, the incredible women who are the subject of this interactive experience.”
The June 13 announcement marks the second consecutive year that Al Jazeera Digital won in the prestigious competition, with Zahra Rasool and The Take podcast’s host, Malika Bilal, reeling in wins in 2021 for Best Online Producer and Best Podcast Host respectively.
Gracie Honorable Mentions also were conferred upon Sandra Gathmann, host of AJ Digital’s news and current affairs explainer series, Start Here and to Stacey Samuel in the Podcast Producer category for AJ Digital’s news and current affairs podcast, The Take.
“We could not 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 place itself at the centre of important stories. We are enormously proud of their accomplishments.”
This year’s Gracie Awards will be sponsored by a host of industry heavyweights, including CNN, HBO, Premiere and Audacy and will take place on May 24, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.
The complete list of Gracie winners can be found in their winner’s gallery