CPJ gala honors brave journalists, highlights journalism’s role

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and media luminaries from around the world last night celebrated courageous journalists from Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam at the 28th annual International Press Freedom Awards, in New York. Also joining the ceremony were two past awardees who had been imprisoned at the time they were honored.

“The forces of press repression seem to be getting louder and more powerful by the minute. Bullies, despots, and murderers think they are winning. They believe they can shut us up forever because no one cares about journalists,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ’s board. “But they are wrong. They won’t win. Because we will keep fighting them. It will take all of us, but we will keep fighting.”

Of CPJ’s 2018 awardees, Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Ouynh,  known as Me Nam or “Mother Mushroom,” accepted her award from veteran journalist and “60 Minutes” correspondent Lester Holt. The blogger was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison, but released last month following advocacy by CPJ and others.

Venezuelan investigative reporter and co-founder of independent news website Efecto Cocuyo, Luz Mely Reyes, received her award from Alberto Ibargijen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and a CPJ board member, presented the award to Anastasiya Stanko, a Ukrainian broadcast journalist.

Amal Khalifa Idris Habbani, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Sudanese news outlet Al-Taghyeer, was presented her award by Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief of HuffPost and a CPJ board member.

Two journalists who were imprisoned when they were named awardees in 2017 and 2012, respectively—Ahmed Abba, a Cameroonian correspondent for Radio France Internationale, and Tibetan documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, also took the stage to accept their honors. Rappler editor Maria Ressawas presented with the 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award by Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, dean of academic affairs at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a CPJ senior adviser.

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