New York celebrates Courage in Journalism

October 24, 2013 – Almost 500 of the East Coast’s leading news personalities gathered in New York yesterday for the 2013 Courage in Journalism Awards, a ceremony hosted by Cynthia McFadden (ABC News), and attended by many of the most accomplished men and women in the U.S. news media, including Ann Curry, Norah O’Donnell, George Stephanopoulos, Cindi Leive, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill.

The Award, which honors women journalists for their courageous reporting, was presented to Najiba Ayubi, a media director from Afghanistan, Nour Kelze, a photojournalist from Syria, and Bopha Phorn, an editor from Cambodia.

“Almost half the world’s population lives in countries where there is no press freedom… places where simply calling yourself a journalist can be life-threatening”, said Cynthia McFadden in her welcoming remarks. “Year after year, we find ourselves using the same words to describe what these women endure simply for doing their jobs: threatened, jailed, exiled, kidnapped, raped, shot, killed”, she continued.

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, presenting the Courage in Journalism Award to Najiba Ayubi from Afghanistan, told the audience: “As the military prepares for a drawdown next year and international funding decreases, the number of Afghan media outlets has begun to decline. But Ayubi continues the fight for free press, which she considers essential for progress in her country. “
In her acceptance speech (see video on the right), Ayubi dedicated her award to all journalists in Afghanistan who are working in very difficult situations, reporting on corruption, drug trafficking, transitional justice and the illegal appropriation of public land. “Journalism is not my job, it is my life”, she explained.

“Her enthusiasm is infectious, her courage is inspiring, I have so enjoyed getting to know her”, said CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell in her remarks introducing Cambodian journalist Bopha Phorn.
“The world doesn’t pay enough attention to Cambodia”, Phorn emphasized in her energetic speech (see video on the right). “That is the reason that I have to keep writing; showing everyone what is happing on my side of the world, so that people can understand our country’s problems and work together to solve them.”

PBS Newshour’s female power duo, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, presented the 2013 Courage Award to Syrian photojournalist Nour Kelze (see video on the right). Painting a picture of life as a journalist in the destroyed city of Aleppo, they said: “Dodging sniper fire and has become part of Kelze’s daily routine. She has been shot at numerous times, and she is often targeted in propaganda by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.”
Nour Kelze, who could not travel to New York to accept her Award in person, told the audience in a letter: “This award is for Syria – for standing strong still after all the hardships since the past till the present day and even in the future. Syria will survive… let the whole world know. WE WILL SURVIVE.”

The 2013 IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Edna Machirori, the first black female editor in the Zimbabwean media and a true trailblazer who paved the way for other women in her country to become journalists. “I have been a journalist for 50 years and I can honestly say standing here to receive this International Women’s Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award is the climax of my career”, she told the impressed audience (see video on the right).
In presenting the Award, Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine, said: “Machirori took many young women under her wing and taught them to be reporters who excelled in their field, as well as adept professionals who could navigate the discrimination and sexual harassment that plagued women in the media.”

Bank of America Global Strategy and Marketing officer Anne Finucane received the inaugural IWMF Leadership Award based on the company’s outstanding support of women’s issues, and her personal commitment to developing female leaders around the world (see video on the right). The IWMF Leadership Award will be given each year to a person or organization that demonstrates an outstanding commitment to responsible and innovative leadership.

Earlier this week, the 2013 IWMF Awardees had a chance to chat with Ahmed Shihab-Eldin in the Huffington Post Live studios where they shared stories about the struggle of women journalists in countries where the principles of gender equality and press freedom still have a long way to go (see video on the right).

The 2013 Courage in Journalism Awards in New York have been made possible through the generous support of Bank of America and many others.

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Najiba Ayubi, Afghanistan | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award
Nour Kelze, Syria | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award
Bopha Phorn, Cambodia | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award
Edna Machirori, Zimbabwe | 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award
Live Stream of the Award Ceremony in Los Angeles | October 29, 8:30 pm (Pacific Time)