In the words of the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, “practicing journalism in the face of grave danger requires a deep sense of optimism and a sincere faith in humanity.”
These qualities were on display Thursday night at the group’s International Press Freedom Awards ceremony in New York. Journalists from Guatemala, Mozambique, Myanmar and other countries were recognized for their courageous work. The winners did not travel to the United States, due to concerns and uncertainty of the Covid era, but the fundraising gala was back in person, complemented by an online streaming option.
You should read all about the CPJ winners here. The quote that struck me the most is that of Matías Guente, editor-in-chief of Canal de Moçambique and CanalMoz. His newsroom was destroyed by arson in August 2020. He has also been pursued by local officials, harassed and intimidated in recent years. “They can burn down newsrooms,” he said, “but they can’t burn thoughts. The threat of fire only increases what these arsonists fear most, critical thinking.”
From my perspective, this annual event always reinforces the privileges of working in an imperfect but fiercely free information environment like the United States – a stark contrast to many other parts of the globe. Simon, who is to resign
of CPJ at the end of the year after a formidable 15-year race, said Thursday evening: “I have always believed, and I continue to believe, that a free society and a free people need a press. free. People all over the world deserve it. And we must continue the fight on their behalf. “
Spotlight on the case of Jimmy Lai
Via ABC Event Recap: “CPJ also presented media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, an award reserved for someone who has demonstrated an extraordinary and sustained contribution to the cause of freedom of the press. ” Lai, owner of the Apple Daily newspaper and pro-democracy media mogul, has been behind bars for almost a year. CPJ reiterated
Thursday that Lai should be released immediately and that all charges against him should be dropped …
An “increasingly repressive world”
The host of the evening, David Muir, presenter of “World News Tonight” on ABC, opened by making this point:
“At first glance, the job of a journalist is simple: to collect and then report the news. But for many reporters in today’s increasingly repressive world, even asking questions can be a crime. During the Covid pandemic, reporters were jailed and intimidated just for collecting data on the number of infections and hospitalizations. Many governments have not been telling the truth about their failure to fight the disease. Some have used the Covid cover to quell political dissent. Journalists who seek to break down this propaganda and disinformation is of course a threat to those who try to control the message. And these journalists run a constant risk of being silenced. “
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