Women Journalists Take Center Stage at the 2017 Courage in Journalism Awards in Washington, DC

Stories of persistence, tributes to the fallen permeate Newseum ceremony honoring Andrea Mitchell, Deborah Amos, Saniya Toiken and Hadeel al-Yamani;

Michele Norris received inaugural Gwen Ifill Award

[October 23, 2017, WASHINGTON, D.C.] – The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) last night honored five women journalists who are pioneers in their fields and have overcome incredible obstacles in reporting the truth. In a packed ceremony at the Newseum, attendees — including many local journalists and supporters of press freedom — heard stories from journalists who are veteran foreign correspondents, who cover war and corruption amid intense media oppression, and who are long-time champions of, and role models for, diversity in the newsroom.

2017 Courage in Journalism honorees included Deborah Amos, Middle East Correspondent for NPR News, who has worked on numerous front lines and covered Syria’s violent and protracted crisis; Saniya Toiken, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kazakhstan who has been harassed, threatened, and scrutinized for covering government corruption and labor issues; and Hadeel al-Yamani, who is the first woman television correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic in Yemen. She was denied a visa to come to the US to accept her award; Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” received IWMF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The IWMF’s inaugural Gwen Ifill award went to Michele Norris, who was National Public Radio’s first African-American female host and is founder of The Race Card Project.

In accepting her award, Norris remembered Gwen Ifill, legendary PBS NewsHour broadcaster and the award’s namesake, for her integrity, inclusive approach to reporting, and commitment to the truth. “We need Gwen’s brand of journalism now,” she said.

The event also drew attention to the rash of attacks on women journalists in recent months. Host Judy Woodruff of PBS Newshour asked those present to pay tribute to journalists Kim Wall of Sweden, who was murdered while reporting a feature story in mid-August; Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta, who died when her car was bombed on October 16; and Russian radio journalist Tatyana Felgenhauer, who is in critical condition after being stabbed during a break-in at her office on Monday.

Compelling footage of Courage winner Hadeel al-Yamani of Al Jazeera Arabic in Yemen, who was denied a visa to travel to the U.S. to be recognized in person, prompted comments from several who took the stage. Her story also has been picked up by outlets such as Huffington Post and MSNBC.

Also through video, IWMF Executive Director Elisa Lee Muñoz offered a glimpse of the Hostile Environment and First Aid Training that IWMF provides for its Fellows as they prepare to report in areas of conflict. “There is no exam to determine if someone has the courage or capacity to be a journalist,” Muñoz said. “There is just a passion and a desire to pursue the truth despite all odds. Our trainings are intended to empower women with the skills to be able to do the work they love while reducing some of the barriers.”

David G. Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media, was recognized as the IWMF Leadership Honoree for DC. Since he was overseas, his wife Katherine Bradley, founder of CityBridge Education, accepted on his behalf. Other award presenters included Linda Douglass (Bloomberg), Alex Trower (Esteé Lauder), Barbara Cochran (University of Missouri School of Journalism), and Susan King (UNC School of Media and Journalism).

More about the Courage in Journalism Award Winners

Photographs from the event are available here; winner headshots, images from the field, and b-roll are here. All are available for media use with proper credits.

Deborah Amos | USA | Middle East Correspondent, NPR News Twitter @deborahamos
Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News; her reports can be heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. A seasoned journalist with nearly 40 years of experience working from conflict zones, Amos covered such world-changing events as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the first Gulf War, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the “Arab Spring” series of popular revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa. Amos reported on an ongoing basis from Syria and was kidnapped in Somalia and detained in the Balkans and Iran. Today she brings us stories of migration in the U.S. and teaches journalism at Princeton University.

Saniya Toiken | Kazakhstan |Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Saniya Toiken is a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kazakhstan, where journalists are routinely threatened, beaten, or killed because of their work. Toiken reports on workers’ rights, government corruption, and a variety of social and political stories in Kazakhstan and across the Central Asian states, where dictatorial regimes do everything to silence independent media. Toiken has been repeatedly harassed and threatened for her work and has captured some incidents on her mobile phone. A target of government, she was run off the road while covering oil and gas workers’ rights in 2010 and was evicted from her apartment under false pretenses in 2012. Her family and friends have been harassed as well.

Hadeel al-Yamani | Yemen | Al Jazeera Arabic
Hadeel al-Yamani is the first woman to become an Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA) television correspondent in Yemen, a country that routinely ranks in the bottom tier for women’s rights around the world. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that al-Yamani came into her own as journalist during a period of extreme upheaval, as she works from the front lines of Yemen’s brutal conflict. Her stories show her as the only woman present, microphone in hand, wearing body armor that covers her abaya and hijab as she brings news to the world of a crisis that is often forgotten. Al-Yamani covers the humanitarian issues that affect Yemen’s most vulnerable and has paved the way for other women journalists in the country to make their voices heard.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Andrea Mitchell | USA | Chief foreign affairs correspondent, NBC News Twitter @mitchellreports Andrea Mitchell is currently in her fifth decade of political reporting. She has been with NBC News for nearly 40 years and is the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” She served as lead correspondent for numerous presidential campaigns and administrations, including seven U.S. presidents. Mitchell covered the complex U.S.-Cuban relationship for decades and led network coverage of the historic thaw with the island country, beginning in 2014. Mitchell’s past assignments for NBC News have included exclusive reports from North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Bosnia, Kosovo, Pakistan and Haiti. She has been honored with the Matrix Award, the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Leonard Zeidenberg Award.

Gwen Ifill Award Winner

Michele Norris | USA | Former host, National Public Radio Twitter: @Michele_Norris
Peabody-winning journalist Michele Norris served as a host of NPR’s evening news program “All Things Considered” for over a decade. In 2010, after publishing her family memoir, The Grace of Silence, she founded The Race Card Project to capture, cultivate and archive the unheard conversations around race in America. She continues her work on the project as executive director for The Bridge, the Aspen Institute’s new program on race, identity and inclusion. Earlier in her career, Norris was a Washington correspondent for ABC News and worked as a staff writer for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

About the Courage in Journalism Awards

Since its inception in 1990, IWMF has honored more than 100 women journalists from 55 countries as part of its Courage in Journalism Awards program. and recognizes an outstanding woman journalist of color who carries forward Ifill’s legacy of mentorship, leadership and commitment to diversity in journalism. Funds raised at the events sustain IWMF programs and grants that empower women journalists with the training, opportunities, and support to become leaders in the news industry, including direct support for the IWMF’s Emergency Fund, which supports female journalists in crisis. More information on the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards and a complete list of past winners can be found here. Follow event announcements on social media via #IWMFCourage.

For media inquiries, please contact Patricia Brooks at patricia@matchmapmedia.com or 202-351-1757.


About the IWMF:
Since 1990, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has worked to unleash the potential of women journalists as champions of press freedom to transform the global news media. We seek to ensure that women journalists worldwide are fully supported, protected, recognized and rewarded for their vital contributions at all levels of the news media. As a result, consumers will increase their demand for news with a diversity of voices, stories and perspectives as a cornerstone of democracy and free expression. Through our programs and grants, we empower women journalists with the training, opportunities, and support to become leaders in the news industry. Follow IWMF on Twitter: @IWMF; Facebook: @IWMFpage; and Instagram: @theIWMF.