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Three who stood for freedom of press honoured
Three journalists who have stood for the freedom of the press in spite of the infringement of their rights, imprisonment and abduction while carrying out their work were honoured on Monday night at the International Press Institute (IPI) gala fund-raising dinner and awards ceremony. The event was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain, and was attended by media practitioners from all around the world.
David Rohde was presented with the 63rd IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award. Rohde, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is an investigative reporter for Thomson Reuters. He won his first Pulitzer for his coverage of the Srebrenica massacre between July 2002 and December 2004 and shared the prestigious award a second time in 2008 for journalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He is also well known for the critically acclaimed book, A Rope and a Prayer, which he co-wrote with his wife, Kristen Mulvihill. Rohde, who was taken captive by the Taliban in November 2008 and escaped in 2009, said he was amazed he had been chosen for the accolade. He thanked his father, Harry Rohde, and brother, Eric Rohde, who were in attendance. He said they had suffered the most when he was abducted.
“The real trauma when a journalist is in danger is to his family, and I think every journalist here knows that and I’m just incredibly lucky to have the support of my family through so many years and so many difficult things,” he said. He dedicated the award to all the journalists who overcome challenges every day to produce their life- changing work.
Rohde urged journalists to stay true and dedicated to their work, as he believed they were becoming more recognised for the power they held in modern society. He added: “I think there is a clear reason why local journalists are being attacked. I believe it is because your power is growing. Politicians will be disciplined, criminals will notice your reporting. It upsets them, it threatens them, it challenges them.
“That’s why they are challenging you. “Local journalism around the world is more potent and is more powerful than it’s ever been. Your journalism is making a difference in our world.” A special citation was given posthumously to Sir Etienne Dupuch, the longest serving editor in history. Dupuch was editor of the Tribune newspaper (Bahamas) for 54 years and was also knighted by three different countries.
His daughter, Eileen Dupuch Carron, who took over the company in 1972, is also known for her fierce defence of the freedom of the press in the Bahamas. Iryna Vidanava, founder and editor in chief of 34 Multimedia Magazine in Belarus, was presented with the IPI Free Media Pioneer 2012 Award. Vidanava received the award for her tireless efforts to report freely in a country that has become known as the last dictatorship in Europe.
She said she was happy to have received the award and described the harsh conditions under which journalists in her country have to work, adding that over 100 journalists had been arrested for the year so far. Vidanava said she was honoured and vowed to keep fighting for press freedom.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said he was happy the IPI conference was taking place at a time when the country was preparing to celebrate its jubilee of Independence. “We have always had a sense of liberty and freedom as the foundation of our democracy and our society, in which the rule of law is paramount, and for that it is most appropriate to have this world congress taking place here,” he said. Dookeran said T&T had a very dynamic media and urged reporters to take into consideration the power they have and to use it wisely.
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