It takes courage to report the news in many parts of the world. Each year, the International Women’s Media Foundation honors that courage and promotes the importance of a free press with its Courage in Journalism Awards, the only international awards that recognize the bravery of women journalists.
2012 Courage in Journalism Awards in New York
October 25, 2012 -- More than 500 of the East Coast's leading news personalities gathered in New York yesterday for the Courage in Journalism Awards, a ceremony hosted by Christiane Amanpour (CNN/ABC News) and Cynthia McFadden (ABC News), and attended by many of the most accomplished women in the U.S. news media, including Ann Curry, Martha Raddatz, Lesley Stahl, Gayle King, Norah O'Donnell, Pat Mitchell, Katty Kay, Judy Woodruff and Cindi Leive.
The Award that honors women journalists for their courageous reporting were presented to Khadija Ismayilova, a radio reporter from Azerbaijan, Asmaa al-Goul, a freelance journalist from Gaza, and Reeyot Alemu, an imprisoned Ethiopian columnist.
“We see the women journalists who we recognize today as heroes, but they are not seen as heroes in their own countries – nor do they aspire to be”, said Christiane Amanpour about this year's Award recipients in her welcoming remarks. “They challenge their establishments and for that they had to pay a very significant price,” she continued, referring in particular to the Ethiopian Award winner Reeyot Alemu who was unable to attend because she is currently serving a five-year prison term for refusing to self-censor in a country that equates independent journalists with terrorists.
In her acceptance speech, Khadija Ismayilova expressed hope that her Award would bring much-needed attention to the oppression of government-critical journalists in Azerbaijan. “Because silence is what these regimes need. Silence helps them to continue depriving their people of opportunities”, she explained. “Silence is supported by police truncheons and assassins’ bullets inside the country and geopolitical interests internationally. The silence is so loud that it might deafen society.”
“It is hard to say that courage is a mere decision that you make", Palestinian journalist al-Ghoul told the audience, visibly overwhelmed. "In fact, it is an inner power that can shock you sometimes with alarm. Suddenly, you feel there is another person inside you, angry and strongly steadfast in unjust situations, in a way that scares you in the beginning. But soon you will start to get familiar with this person and realize that she is a part of yourself.”
The 2012 IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Zubeida Mustafa from Pakistan, the first female editor at the English-language daily newspaper Dawn, and a true trailblazer who paved the way for Pakistani women to ascend to the leadership ranks of her country's news media.
Mustafa remembered: "The invitation from Dawn was tempting. From reading fairy tales to my girls I was being asked to write editorials on South Asian politics. That would be a big jump. Frankly, I hesitated. I knew how to write. But I knew of no other woman in the mainstream media
in my country who was a leader writer. I decided to give it a try – three months was the period I allowed myself. Before I could think about the matter again 33 years had passed and it was time for my retirement."
In addition to honoring women journalists who have shown tremendous courage in the exercise of their profession, the ceremony also paid tribute to women journalists who have given their lives to report about domestic and armed violence, corruption and abuse of power, injustice and tyranny – including Marie Colvin and Mika Yamamoto who died reporting from the conflict in Syria earlier this year.
The 2012 Courage in Journalism Awards in New York have been made possible through the generous support of Bank of America.
Christiane Amanpour, Asmaa al-Ghoul, Zubeida Mustafa, Khadija Ismayilova, Cynthia McFadden and Martha Raddatz
See photos, watch videos and read bios of the Awardees:
Reeyot Alemu | Asmaa al-Goul | Khadija Ismayilova | Zubeida Mustafa
Courage Awards in the News
Images of the New York award ceremony
Portraits Of Courage: Female Journalists Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards
The Daily Beast, October 24, 2012
Women from Azerbaijan, Gaza, Ethiopia win courage in journalism awards
The Washington Post, October 24, 2012 (by Alexandra Olson, Associated Press)
International Women's Media Foundation Honors Journalists
Women's Wear Daily, October 25, 2012
IWMF Honors Khadija Ismayilova With "Courage In Journalism" Award
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 25, 2012
Imprisoned Ethiopian reporter wins a Courage in Journalism award
Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2012
Palestinian reporter Asmaa al-Ghoul aims to keep thorn in Hamas’ side
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 22, 2012