IWMF Honors Four Courageous Journalists

Outstanding Female Journalists Honored by International Women’s Media Foundation at 2018 Courage in Journalism Awards in NYC

The ceremony celebrated journalists Zehra Doğan, Meridith Kohut, Nima Elbagir, and Rosario Mosso Castro, and “60 Minutes’” Lesley Stahl received the Lifetime Achievement Award

[October 25, 2018, New York, NY] – The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) today honored several outstanding female journalists at the 2018 Courage in Journalism Awards luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street. This year’s honorees included news agency JINHA founder, Zehra Doğan, U.S. freelance photojournalist, Meridith Kohut, undercover CNN International correspondent, Nima Elbagir, and organized crime reporter and ZETA editor-in-chief, Rosario Mosso Castro. “60 Minutes’” Lesley Stahl also received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, MSNBC President, Phil Griffin was recognized with the IWMF Leadership Award along with Bloomberg News’ Senior Editor, Karen Toulon who was honored with the Gwen Ifill Award.

The honorees were selected for exhibiting extraordinary bravery and courage as they reported from areas of instability, oppression and conflict. Since its inception in 1990, the IWMF has honored more than 100 female journalists from 55 countries. The Courage in Journalism Awards show people that female journalists are not going to step aside, cannot be silenced, and deserve to be recognized for their strength in the face of adversity. It honors the brave journalists who report on taboo topics, work in environments hostile to women, and share difficult truths.

NorahO’Donnell of CBS News and Cynthia McFadden of NBC News co-hosted the program for the third year in a row.

 “I really hope this award sends a message to any other women out there, who are struggling. That we do belong back at the frontlines. That we get to decide where we belong. Because right now we can’t afford to lose any women’s voices” said CNN International correspondent, Nima Elbagir.

Presenters included Andrea B. Smith, Christy Turlington, Elisa Lees Muñoz, Hugh Hildesley, and David Rhodes. Additional attendees included Tom Brokaw, Jeff Zucker, Anne Finucane, Merrill Brown, Lynn Povich, Joy Reid, Stephanie Ruhle, Ann Thompson, Andrea Mitchell, Kate Snow, Savannah Sellers and many more.

The 2018 award winners were also recognized in Washington, DC on Thursday, November 1, 2018 in a dinner ceremony hosted by Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour) and Suzanne Malveaux (CNN).


Courage in Journalism Award Winners

Zehra Doğan | Turkey

Founder and journalist, JINHA; Twitter @zehradoganjinha

Zehra Doğan was born in Diyarbakir, Turkey in 1989. She was one of the founders of JINHA, Turkey’s first women’s news agency that was shut down by a government decree in 2016. Zehra worked there as an editor and a reporter. Zehra courageously reported from places like the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, that came under curfew of the Turkish army, Northern Iraq during ISIS presence, where she went to become one of the first journalists to speak to the Yezidi women liberated from ISIS slavery. Zehra’s coverage of the Yezidi women earned her the Metin Göktepe Award, one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Turkey. Zehra is not only a journalist but also a painter. As a graduate of the arts in university, Zehra has painted impressions of the scenes and the people she witnesses during her journalistic work. After leaving Nusaybin, Zehra was jailed for six months waiting trial with the accusation of “terrorist propaganda” because of a news report and a painting she made. Imprisonment does not stop Zehra from producing journalism. She has been collecting and writing the stories of the women political prisoners, reporting human rights abuses in prison, and also painting despite the prison administration’s refusal to supply her with painting materials. Zehra has been producing her own paint from food, drinks, and her menstrual blood. Zehra does not have a brush but makes brushes from the feathers of birds that fall into the prison. Zehra shows that neither journalism nor art can be oppressed by imprisonment. While imprisoned, she won the Freethinker Prize from the Swiss Freethinker Association, her works are exhibited in many European countries, and her voice is heard all over the world. Zehra is expected to be released in 2019.

Nima Elbagir | Sudan

Senior International Correspondent, CNN Intertnational; Teitter @NimaCNN

Nima Elbagir is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN based in London. She joined CNN in February 2011 as a Johannesburg-based correspondent before moving to the network’s Nairobi bureau and later London. A recipient of the Royal Television Society’s (RTS) 2016 Specialist Journalist of the Year Award for her investigations into abuses perpetrated against women and children, including the sale of displaced Nigerian children to Boko Haram and the mutilation of British Somali girls by FGM practitioners in Nairobi, Elbagir has focused much of her reporting on Africa. In the fall of 2017, Elbagir traveled to Libya with producer Raja Razek and photojournalist Alex Platt to investigate reports of African migrants being sold at slave auctions. Carrying concealed cameras onto a property outside the capital of Tripoli, Elbagir and Razek witnessed a dozen African migrants auctioned off — some for as little as $400 — in less than 10 minutes. Their shocking report, which sparked a global outcry, was recognized with a George Polk Award in the Foreign Television Reporting category as well as the RTS Award for Scoop of the Year this year. The report was instrumental in the passage of unprecedented United Nations sanctions against six men identified as traffickers by the U.N. Libya Sanctions Committee in June 2018. At immense personal risk, Elbagir reported on the Ebola outbreak that ravaged West Africa in 2014, going inside Liberia’s quarantine zones and exploring the devastation the disease wrought across both urban and rural communities. She was also the first international journalist to report from Chibok, the northern Nigerian village from which over 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014. Nearly two years after their abduction, Elbagir and producer Stephanie Busari obtained a ‘proof of life’ video for some of the kidnapped girls. Over the years she has reported from Somalia at the height of the famine; exclusively interviewed Safia Gadhafi, the former Libyan leader’s wife, in Tripoli; and reported on the child slaves sold and re-sold by ISIS. Elbagir also anonymously reported CNN’s ‘Damascus Undercover’ series, gaining extraordinary access to life in Syria over an extensive period in the summer of 2012. She went on to win the Overseas Press Club’s David E Kaplan and the Edward R Murrow awards, but was not identified at the time for security concerns. As a freelancer for CNN, she covered the escalating violence against women in the Congo; Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence; the South Sudanese Referendum; and CNN’s coverage of the Hajj. Before joining CNN, Sudanese-born Elbagir worked in various capacities for the UK’s Channel 4 for a number of years starting in 2005: She freelanced from Kabul for Channel 4 News; reported for the “Unreported World” documentary strand; and both reported and presented for Channel 4 News and More4 News. During this period, Elbagir’s exclusives included getting the first interview with the Aegis security company whistleblower on the Iraq “Trophy Videos” (2005); interviewing Jacob Zuma in the run-up to his rape trial (2006); being the only Western journalist reporting from Mogadishu during the U.S. bombing of Somalia (2007); and broadcasting the first televised evidence of Iranian weaponry smuggled to the Taliban (2009).

Meridith Kohut | U.S.

Freelance Photojournalist; Twitter @MeridithKohut

Meridith Kohut (b.1983, USA) is an American photojournalist based in Caracas, Venezuela, where she has worked covering Latin America for the foreign press since 2007. For the past three years, she has spent nearly every day documenting the economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela – photographing hundreds waiting in breadlines, patients dying from medicine shortages in collapsed public hospitals, people clashing with security forces in violent, anti-government street protests, laboring in illegal gold mines, and getting smuggled alongside cocaine out of the country in small boats. Her work has resulted in dozens of front-page stories published in The New York Times, and is widely recognized as the largest and most comprehensive photographic archive of the crisis made by a single photographer. Her Venezuela crisis work has been recognized by The Overseas Press Club, The George Polk Journalism Awards and Pictures of The Year International. Her 5-month investigation and photo essay that exposed that hundreds of children had died from severe child malnutrition in public hospitals was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography in 2018. Kohut has also produced in-depth photo essays about the rise of Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution in Venezuela, the drug trade in Bolivia, Cuba’s transition, gang violence in El Salvador, refugee and migration issues in Central America, labor rights and cholera outbreaks in Haiti, prostitution in Colombia, illegal gold mines and human rights abuses in Venezuela, and prison overcrowding in El Salvador, among others. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times. Her photographs have also been published by National Geographic, Leica, Bloomberg News, NPR, The Washington Post Magazine and Der Spiegel. They have been exhibited at Visa pour L’Image, Sotheby’s London, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Columbia University, The Leica Gallery Salzburg & Photoville in Brooklyn, New York.

Rosario Mosso Castro l Mexico

Editor-in-chief, ZETA

As a reporter in Tijuana, a city heavily affected by drug trafficking and war between cartels, Rosario Mosso Castro has excelled in Mexico as a professional investigative journalist specialized in drug trafficking and organized crime. As editor in chief at ZETA newspaper, Rosario Mosso Castro has led journalistic investigations against criminal organizations such as the Sinaloa cartel, the Arellano Felix cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG). She has also focused on the relationship between drug traffickers and authorities in the state of Baja California. Mosso Castro has been threatened at least four times by criminal groups and security forces because of her journalistic work. Due to the threats against her, she has had bodyguard protection with the Mexican army on three occasions. Mosso Castro began her career at ZETA newspaper, a weekly investigative publication and one of Mexico’s most targeted media for their reporting on crime. She was a culture and entertainment reporter, but at the beginning of the nineties started working in investigative journalism, focusing on stories about corruption, politics and social reporting. Mosso Castro is one of the first journalists to investigate Arellano Felix Cartel, one of the strongest criminal organizations in Baja California. In the last decade, with an intense war against drug cartels in Mexico, she continued leading investigative teams to find out the mutations of organized crime in the north of Mexico. As editor-in-chief, Mosso has trained several generations of young reporters and has also worked as a journalism teacher. In spite of the threats and risks in one of most dangerous countries to be a journalist, Mosso has always had a strong commitment to her work. She continues as an editor-in-chief at ZETA training journalists, investigating drug trafficking, reporting on political corruption and writing the newspaper’s editorial section.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Leslie Stahl | USA

Correspondent, 60 Minutes; Twitter @LesleyRStahl

Lesley Stahl is one of America’s most honored and experienced broadcast journalists, her five-decade career marked by political scoops, surprising features and award-winning foreign reporting. Stahl was among a handful of female television journalists whose work led the way for the anchors and reporters on the air today. She was CBS’ first female White House correspondent and moderator of FACE THE NATION. Her remarkable body of work has been recognized with every major award, including The Radio Television Digital News Association’s Paul White Award for Lifetime Achievement; the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from Quinnipiac College, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, the Overseas Press Club award and 13 Emmys, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Stahl has been a 60 MINUTES correspondent since March 1991; she began her 26th season on the broadcast in September. She is the author of the best-selling book “Becoming Grandma.” Stahl landed the first post-election television interview with Donald Trump in November 2016. She earned an Emmy for her 2015 report on the recruitment of vulnerable young people for dangerous jobs as confidential police informants, and an Emmy for her interview with the widow of a slain hostage, with a look inside the technically illegal process of terrorist negotiation. In 2013, Stahl’s two-part series on U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison facilities, received the Edward R. Murrow award. In 2014, she won two Emmys for the Guantanamo series and a story about China’s huge real estate bubble. In 2014, she received the International Center for Journalists, Founders Award for Journalistic Excellence. In 2012, her uplifting feature, “Gospel for Teens,” received two Emmy Awards, and her whistleblower interview with F-22 Raptor pilots provided the public personal accounts of the fighter’s oxygen system troubles, spurring the Secretary of Defense to action. Stahl’s interview of a former CIA Clandestine Services chief regarding “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Al Qaeda operatives sparked national debate. Her first book “Reporting Live” (Simon & Schuster, 1999), highlighted stories Stahl covered including Watergate, the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, and the 1991 Gulf War. Stahl graduated cum laude in 1963 from Wheaton College, and is a former board member. She currently serves on the board of the New York City Ballet.


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.

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 Charlotte Fox at cfox@iwmf.org.



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.