The 2017 Press Award was received by Hidde Boersma and his team. The prize – a certificate, a sum of 2500 euros and a miniature replica of ‘De Wageningse Boom’ (The Wageningen Tree’) – was awarded on Monday during the opening of the academic year in Orion.
© Hidde Boersma
Hidde Boersma, who is a freelance science journalist and an alumnus of the university, worked together with director Karsten de Vreugd and director of photography Philip Fountain on a multimedial story themed around genetically modified crops. The jury was impressed by the high standard of the work, the various ways in which Boersma explored the subject and the international attention received by his story. The story was broadcasted a total of ten times.
The Press Award was created in 1978 by the University Fund Wageningen and is presented once every three years. Journalists, directors or even a media can compete for the award. The jury mainly investigates which person or programme does the best job at elaborating a WUR theme for the broader public. Boersma is very happy to have received the award: ‘This is great! And this is not just a simple prize, looking at previous laureates such as Vroege Vogels.’
Boersma, who has a PhD in molecular biology, mostly focuses his work on biotechnology, agriculture and bioethics. One part of his multimedial submission on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a documentary entitled ‘Well Fed’, in which Boersma joins director Karsten de Vreugd on their search for answers on genetically modified food in places such as Bangladesh. This turned out to be more labourious than expected. ‘We ended up with over sixty hours of material. Just try to get through all that.’ He estimates that the editor and director worked without pay for three months to remain within budget.
Boersma did expect that the multimedial aspect of his story on GMO would catch on. One of the broadcasters of his documentary was the Arabic channel Al Jazeera. ‘But it is always exciting to see if that feeling is right. It is quite a controversial subject. You have clear opponents, and through this story, I also wanted to show that there are advantages to the modification of food.’ Boersma is not done with the subject yet. ‘I will always keep working on this kind of stories. But don’t ask me about the next story I want to tell. You will see in due time.’