What Does Courage Mean?

When we think of courageous journalism, we usually think of the reporters on the front line: scribbling notes as bullets rain down from the sky, interviewing civilians from the wreckage of fallen communities, photographing the children and families left behind in the chaos. Without a doubt, this is courage. We are amazed by the women in the field who show unwavering strength to expose the truths of conflict.

But acts of courage extend beyond the battlefield.

Sifting through hundreds of spreadsheets to uncover fraud, questioning assumptions or hollow promises, holding those in power to account, and shining a light on the people and communities that are often overlooked; courage can be found in the hard work female journalists are doing every day around the world. It’s about telling stories that matter, stories that — without their voices — might go untold.

Each day, female journalists fighting on the frontlines, laboring behind spreadsheets, and engaging with their communities inspire us with their persistence in the face of adversity and the challenges of a still male-dominated news field. At the IWMF, courage means reporting against all the odds.

Since 1990, we have supported badass female journalists who push past barriers and break glass ceilings every day to simply tell do their job. Every October, the IWMF highlights the women #JournoHeroes who persevere in the face of adversity, threats, harassment and dangers in the profession. And each year, we honor some of the bravest and most inspiring of those heroes in our annual Courage in Journalism Awards.

2018 courage awardees

In these women, we see how courage is represented in many forms. To Marie Colvin, courage meant venturing into the heart of the action to tell stories at the center of the world’s conflicts — no matter the sacrifice. To Solange Lusiku, courage meant fighting for the rights of  Congolese women even in the face of government censorship and attacks on her home. To Stephanie Sinclair, courage means dedicating your work to expose the horrors of child marriage. And to Gwen Ifill, courage meant breaking down barriers, setting a powerful example for future female journalists of color, and helping them to rise up.

At the IWMF, we believe courage takes many forms, and our award-winning badass female journalists embody them all. What does courage mean to you?