November 21, 2018
NEW YORK - The Committee to Protect Journalists and media luminaries from around the world last night celebrated courageous journalists from Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam at the 28th annual International Press Freedom Awards.
Also joining the ceremony were two past awardees who had been imprisoned at the time they were honored.
"The forces of press repression seem to be getting louder and more powerful by the minute. Bullies, despots, and murderers think they are winning. They believe they can shut us up forever because no one cares about journalists," said Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ's board. "But they are wrong. They won't win. Because we will keep fighting them. It will take all of us, but we will keep fighting."
Of CPJ's 2018 awardees, Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as Me Nam or "Mother Mushroom," accepted her award from veteran journalist and "60 Minutes" correspondent Lester Holt. The blogger was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison, but released last month following advocacy by CPJ and others.
Venezuelan investigative reporter and co-founder of independent news website Efecto Cocuyo, Luz Mely Reyes, received her award from Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and a CPJ board member, presented the award to Anastasiya Stanko, a Ukrainian broadcast journalist. Amal Khalifa Idris Habbani, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Sudanese news outlet Al-Taghyeer, was presented her award by Lydia Polgreen, Editor-in-Chief of HuffPost and a CPJ board member.
Two journalists who were imprisoned when they were named awardees in 2017 and 2012, respectively - Ahmed Abba, a Cameroonian correspondent for Radio France Internationale, and Tibetan documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen-- also took the stage to accept their honors.
Rappler editor Maria Ressa was presented with the 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award by Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, dean of academic affairs at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a CPJ senior adviser.
The event, at the Grand Hyatt New York, included an appeal matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and raised over $2.2 million.
CPJ also launched a campaign seeking justice for slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hundreds of guests filled out signs highlighting the importance of journalism and shared photos on social media with the hashtag #JusticeForJamal.
"CPJ is a voice for all jailed journalists. Their staff publicly and privately calls for imprisoned journalists to be released and for restrictive media laws to be reformed. They conduct advocacy so that government leaders know their actions are being watched," said Meher Tatna, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the awards dinner chair.
"Because of their dedication to the safety of journalists, the HFPA was honored to grant a million dollars to CPJ at our last Golden Globes in January, and I am honored to represent the membership of HFPA here today."- A CPJ press release
Blunder Thunder, The Morning Mail, October 22, 2018