Rising Star - Content

Winner: Bill Bostock, Insider

Bill Bostock has demonstrated a flair for original, investigative reporting in the Insider newsroom in London. He started on the Insider fellowship scheme, a paid internship programme for new journalists, before becoming a full-time news reporter in April 2019.

The judges were impressed by Bostock’s investigation into Absher – a Saudi Arabian government app, which, under the country’s male guardianship laws, allowed men to deny women the permission to travel.

For example, if a woman tried to leave the country, the app on the man’s phone would notify him and, with the press of a button, he could deny her travel, Bostock explained.

He obtained screenshots from the Absher site showing how guardians manage and deny travel permissions. He located copies of SMS alerts sent by the Saudi Ministry of Interior to guardians notifying them of their dependents’ movements. Although the government allegedly suspended alerts in 2014, Bostock spoke to several experts who corroborated that text messages still existed. 

His subsequent reporting challenged the role of Apple and Google in the tracking of women’s movements through their hosting of the Absher app. It revealed that Absher had been downloaded five million times on Android devices and four million times via Apple’s App Store. 

As a result of Bostock’s reporting, the Saudi government changed the country’s guardianship laws. Women over the age of 21 are now able to travel without the permission of a male guardian. This is a momentous development for the rights of millions of women in Saudi Arabia.

It was also a significant, personal achievement for this young journalist, who was a worthy winner of the Rising Star – Content category. 


Hugo Griffiths, Auto Express/Dennis Publishing

Andrea Leebody, WeightWatchers/River Group

Hattie Parish, Holland & Barrett/River Group

Tom Rowley, Holland & Barrett/River Group

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