We’ve seen the heartbreaking images that have come from the siege in Aleppo.
Syrian photojournalist Karam al-Masri planted himself in the middle of it, showing the world what was happening in his home and feeling despair at the incredible toll.
al-Masri recently was honored with a Knight International Journalism Award by the International Center for Journalists for his courageous and important work. Also honored was Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a journalist and filmmaker whose coverage has led to legislative protections for women and children in Pakistan.
Patrick Butler, vice president of programs with ICFJ, says the group has given Knight International Journalism awards every year since 1998.
“We are looking for people whose journalism has really made a difference in improving people’s lives – such as Sharmeen’s work changing laws that have protected women and children in Pakistan, or Karam’s work revealing the atrocities in Aleppo to the world when almost all other journalists had left,” Butler said.
To date, 45 winners from 37 countries have received the award. Selecting just two from a pool of 260 nominations this year is a monumental task.
“It is extremely difficult to select just two winners every year,” Butler says. “We receive hundreds of nominations and the staff narrows it down to about 10 that go to the judging panel.”
ICFJ judges look very closely at a number of things when they consider a journalist for this prestigious award.
According to ICFJ, these include:
- Contributing to the promotion and/or maintenance of independent media in their countries or regions in the face of challenging political, economic or social conditions.
- Spearheading innovative ideas and services that deepen coverage, expand news delivery and engage citizens in the editorial process.
- Impacting the lives of individuals in their respective countries or societies as a direct result of their journalism.
- Upholding the highest ethical and professional standards of journalism.
Butler says past winners have included pioneering reporters, editors, and bloggers who have exposed government corruption, police abuse, war crimes, and other important stories.
“The award has also honored crusading publishers determined to maintain their independence despite enormous political and financial pressures,” ICFJ says.
This year, the International Center for Journalists held its awards dinner on Nov. 9. It’s an evening my team and I look forward to every year.
Nearly 600 journalists and leaders in the media industry gathered to pay tribute to journalists who fearlessly tell their stories and cover news.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was the master of ceremonies.
Other annual dinner highlights include:
- New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly drawing highlights of awards dinner. She sketched the honorees, Blitzer, and other presenters.
- The 2017 photo auction called Reflections on American Unity featured 15 signed and framed images of U.S. life from critically acclaimed photojournalist Brooks Kraft, who’s covered six presidential campaigns.
- Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was honored with the Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism. Wallace said President Donald Trump has engaged in a “direct, sustained assault on free press,” but journalists should not respond with attacks of their own.
- National Public Radio correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson received the Excellence in International Reporting Award. Sarhaddi Nelson is recognized for reporting from Afghanistan, North Africa, and the Middle East and urges U.S. news organizations to pay more attention to global events though the trend is to do the opposite in the era of “America First.”