19 Feb 2015

Matt Frei named RTS journalist of the year

“Remarkable frontline reporting” sees Channel 4 News Europe Editor Matt Frei named best broadcast journalist at the Royal Television Society awards.

Matt Frei was awarded the television journalist of the year gong at this year’s Royal Television Society (RTS) awards, for his series documenting Ukraine‘s revolution and its aftermath last year.

His films from Kiev, begins with the battles between police and anti-government protesters on Ukraine’s “Unity Day” in January 2014, recording the first fatalities of the confrontation.

Read Matt Frei's blog: Ukraine bloodshed - protesters shot dead in Kiev

The Channel 4 News Europe editor was also there as the country descended into bloody chaos, with more than 70 people shot dead in “a day of barely believable violence…A cold-blooded massacre on the streets of a modern European capital”.

Matt was in the thick of it, recording the injured and the dead as they were brought back to makeshift field hospitals in the square.

Warning: the accompanying films contain distressing images

In awarding the prestigious award, the RTS jury said: “The work of the television Journalist of the year demonstrated the absolute value of being on the scene of major stories as they unfolded, close to the action, but with the composure and eloquence to convey a complete picture to viewers.

The winning entry combined remarkable frontline reporting with fine writing and a real sense of humanity. RTS jury

“The winning entry combined remarkable frontline reporting with fine writing and a real sense of humanity, as well as a light touch at just the right moment.”

Read Matt Frei's blog: Plump pigs and a private zoo - a very revolutionary day out

Matt was praised for his poignant language, while reporting the fall of the government, which forced former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich to flee from his luxury compound. He said: “Once a fortress of presidential defiance, now guarded by a small posse of protesters turned people’s militia, taking revolutionary selfies.”

Following the fallout, Matt turned to the centre of Kiev where Independence Square had been turned into a shrine for the “martyrs” of the revolution. Describing the scene, he said: “Everything had been organised with Swiss precision but Slavic soul… haunted by images and sounds that barely had time to become memories.”

Read Matt Frei's blog: Flowers for the martyrs - Ukraine's Independence Square transformed

Matt was also hailed for capturing the human stories of the hundreds and thousands of migrants being disgorged each day from arriving ships – many having being pulled to safety after spending weeks adrift in the Mediterranean in unseaworthy vessels after fleeing conflicts, poverty and disease in their homelands.