22 September 1997

Alert

Journalists from six countries to receive CPJ's International Press Freedom Awards; committee to honour Ted Koppel, Fred Friendly for dedication to press freedom


Incident details

other

(CPJ/IFEX) - Six journalists -- from Croatia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Russia,
Taiwan and the United States -- who have risked their freedom and their
lives to report the news will receive the 1997 International Press Freedom
Awards from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), it was announced on
19 September 1997. CPJ will also honour Ted Koppel, anchor and managing
editor of the American Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC's) "Nightline" [news
programme], for his contributions to the cause of press freedom. And the
Committee will present a special tribute to legendary broadcast news
producer Fred W. Friendly.


The seventh annual awards will be presented on 23 October at formal dinner
ceremonies at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City, United States
attended by leading national and international journalists. The gala
benefit marks the 16th year of CPJ. The International Press Freedom Awards
honour journalists who have courageously provided independent news coverage
and viewpoints in the face of arrest, imprisonment, violence against them
and their families, and threats of death. Gene Roberts, chairman of CPJ's
board of directors and managing editor of "The New York Times", said, "The
brave actions honoured by these press freedom awards are a stark reminder
that the absence of a free press signals the absence of freedom. Our
recognition of these journalists' contributions carries a message to all
would-be suppressors of the press that censorship in all its forms is
incompatible with democracy."


The 1997 CPJ International Press Freedom Award recipients are:


Christine Anyanwu, imprisoned editor-in-chief of the independent Nigerian
news weekly "The Sunday Magazine", who is serving a brutal, 15-year jail
sentence for exposing a government ploy to round up political opponents.


Ying Chan, U.S. correspondent and contributing editor of the Hong Kong
magazine "Yazhou Zhoukan", an international Chinese-language newsweekly,
and Shieh Chung-liang, its Taiwan bureau chief, who are battling a criminal
libel suit by a high-ranking Taiwanese ruling party official over their
reporting of an alleged offer of an illegal contribution to the Clinton
re-election campaign.


Viktor Ivancic, editor-in-chief of "Feral Tribune", a weekly newspaper in
Croatia, who has continued his pointed and irreverent coverage of Croatian
politics and hard-hitting reporting of atrocities while fighting a
seditious libel conviction and death threats.


Yelena Masyuk, special correspondent of NTV independent television of
Russia, whose incisive and balanced reporting on the war in Chechnya under
treacherous conditions, harassment by Russian officials, and great personal
risk, culminated in her kidnapping by Chechen armed rebels who held her and
her two-man crew hostage for 100 days.


Freedom Neruda, managing/senior editor of "La Voie", the leading
independent daily newspaper in the Ivory Coast, who has been arrested,
physically assaulted and prosecuted for criminal libel for criticizing the
government's policies and conduct.


Speakers at the black-tie event will include Tom Brokaw of [the United
States television network] NBC, who will be master of ceremonies; Dan
Rather of [the United States television network] CBS; Peter Jennings of
ABC; Christiane Amanpour of the Cable News Network (CNN); Bill Keller of
"The New York Times"; journalist and author Kati Marton of CPJ's board of
directors; Ed Bradley and Andy Rooney of CBS; and Roger Rosenblatt, writer
and essayist. Michael D. Eisner, chairman and chief executive officer of
the Walt Disney Company, is dinner chairman.


"The journalists receiving International Press Freedom Awards risk personal
and political peril in upholding the highest standards of their
profession," said William A. Orme, Jr., CPJ's executive director, in
announcing their names. "Their determination to provide independent news
coverage in these most difficult circumstances advances the cause of press
freedom for journalists everywhere."


Information on the award recipients follows.


Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for distinguished achievement in the cause
of press freedom: TED KOPPEL


In his 34 years at ABC News, Ted Koppel has upheld the highest principles
of professionalism and independence and has been a standard-bearer for
press freedom worldwide. Landmark broadcasts from Israel and South Africa
are prominent examples of the critical role that frank, independent
hard-hitting journalism can play in societies where such practice has been
rare or suppressed.


His signature program, "Nightline", is one of the few serious broadcast
news forums providing daily in depth coverage of events and issues in
countries around the world where the press is under attack or constraint,
from Bosnia, to Russia, to the Middle East to China. "Nightline" has helped
bring understanding where enmity long ruled.


In South Africa, he brought black people and white people together in a
publicly televised open forum for the first time. In Israel, his
presentation of Arabs and Israelis on the same stage for the first time was
more than a symbolic breakthrough in prospects for peace. In extensive
coverage of the Chinese student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and
subsequent mass killings and repression, Koppel demonstrated the benefits
of a free press in a society where they are unknown.


Ted Koppel has refused to underestimate the public's capacity for
analytical news coverage. In defiance of conventional wisdom, he has
brought hard reporting, tough interviewing, and serious debate to
television and shown that press freedom is essential to an informed and
educated public.


The Burton Benjamin Memorial Award honours the late CBS News senior
producer and former CPJ chairman who died in 1988.


A TRIBUTE TO FRED W. FRIENDLY


In a distinguished career spanning 60 years, Fred Friendly has been an
inspiring and courageous leader. A principal exponent of the importance of
a free press in a democracy, he challenged a fledgling industry to realize
its potential to inform and enlighten public opinion. His landmark "See It
Now" documentaries with Edward R. Murrow revolutionized television by
breaking new ground with bold programming that uncloaked McCarthyism,
revealed the shameful plight of migrant farm workers, and set a standard
for investigative reporting that endures to this day.


As president of CBS News in the tumultuous 1960s, he put principle into
practice when he left CBS in protest over the network's decision to air
more profitable sitcom reruns instead of continuing to broadcast live the
United States Senate hearings on the Vietnam War. The experience led to his
resolve to promote the concept of non-commercial television, and he became
the driving force behind the creation of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting.


As a journalism educator at Columbia University later in his career, he
took his powerful dictum -- "to make the agony of decision-making so
intense that you can escape only by thinking" - from the classroom to the
American public and beyond in the mind-probing Columbia University Media
and Society Seminars television series, which will stand as problem-solving
guides on social issues for generations to come. Those programs examined
the complexity, role and responsibility of the news media and have
profoundly broadened the public's understanding of its obligations in a
democratic society, and of the importance to the nation of a free press.
Through a lifelong commitment to press freedom, he has helped form a
profession forever in his debt.


1997 INTERNATIONAL PRESS FREEDOM AWARD WINNERS


CHRISTINE ANYANWU was publisher and editor-in-chief of the national news
weekly "The Sunday Magazine" when she was arrested on 31 May 1995 because
she had published articles reporting that there was no evidence of an
alleged plot to overthrow Nigeria's military regime headed by General Sani
Abacha. The regime had used the allegation to round up political opponents
who challenged Abacha's annulment of the 12 June 1993 presidential
elections. "The Sunday Magazine" also had published a list of people who
had been wrongfully arrested at that time.


Charged as an "accessory to a treasonable felony," Anyanwu was tried before
a secret military tribunal and sentenced to life in prison. Three other
journalists -- George Mbah, assistant editor of "Tell" magazine; Ben
Charles Obi, editor of "Weekend Classique"; and Kunle Ajibade,
editor-in-chief of "TheNEWS" -- were also tried and sentenced with Anyanwu
on the same charges. After an international protest and campaign for their
release was initiated by CPJ, the sentence was commuted to 15 years, says
CPJ.


Anyanwu, 46, a former state commissioner of information and a well-known
energy correspondent and diplomatic/foreign correspondent on Nigerian
television, is a member of Nigeria's vibrant independent press, which has
been a strong opponent of military rule. "The Sunday Magazine", founded by
Anyanwu in 1990, was unable to survive without her editorial leadership and
is no longer publishing.


Anyanwu, who received a master's degree in mass communication from Florida
State University in 1979, is the mother of two children. She is in
deteriorating health after more than two years in prison, much of that in
dank solitary confinement and without needed medications. Reports indicate
that Anyanwu is in danger of going blind if she does not receive
specialized treatment available only in eye clinics abroad.


YING CHAN AND SHIEH CHUNG-LIANG, U.S. correspondent and contributing
editor, and Taiwan bureau chief, respectively, of the Hong Kong magazine
"Yazhou Zhoukan" ("Asia Week"), were the first journalists to point the way
toward the role of Taiwan money in the unfolding investigation into Asian
influence on U.S. elections. With Chan investigating the U.S. angle and
Shieh reporting in Taiwan, the two wrote an article published on 25 October
1996 reporting that Liu Tai-ying, the powerful business manager of the
Kuomintang (KMT) party, had offered US$15 million to the Clinton
re-election campaign in a meeting with a former White House aide.


Their story exposed a sensitive nerve in Taiwanese ruling circles that soon
landed them in court. Liu Tai-ying, who controls a KMT business empire
estimated at $3 billion, denied that he had made the offer. He sued the
reporters and the magazine for criminal libel in a case that for many
observers called into question Taiwan's commitment to democracy and became
a test case for press freedom in Asia. At stake was a possible two-year
jail term and civil damages of $15 million.


Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and came to the United States in 1972 to do
graduate work at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, is an American
citizen. Nevertheless, she was determined to go to Taiwan to stand with her
colleague and answer the charges -- and risk going to jail. Using skills
acquired as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1995, she created a Web site on
the case and worked tirelessly to inform an international audience about
the libel action.


Veteran journalist Shieh, who holds a master's degree from the University
of Minnesota, did the difficult reporting on the KMT in his own country. He
broke the story with full awareness of the risk he was taking. The
publisher and editor of "Yazhou Zhoukan", to their credit, supported their
reporters and refused to settle the suit out of court. On 22 April, a
Taiwanese district court ruled in favour of Ying Chan and Shieh
Chung-liang, accepting arguments made in an amicus brief filed on behalf of
the defendants by CPJ and ten major U.S. media companies. The acquittal has
been widely hailed as a major victory for freedom of the press in Asia.


While Liu Tai-ying has appealed the decision, Chan and Shieh have proven
themselves worthy defenders of the finest traditions of press freedom.
Their courage sets an example in a region noted for both widespread
self-censorship and government intervention in the functioning of the
press.


VIKTOR IVANCIC is the editor-in-chief of "Feral Tribune", a weekly
newspaper based in the Croatian city of Split that has enraged President
Franjo Tudjman for its independent news coverage, biting lampoons, and
satirical political cartoons. In 1996, Ivancic and reporter Marinko Cucic
were indicted on charges of seditious libel for an article titled "Bones in
the Mixer," which criticized Tudjman's plans to inter soldiers of the World
War II Croatian Fascist regime alongside their Serb, Jewish, Roma and Croat
victims buried at the site of a former concentration camp.


The criminal charges were brought under new amendments to the penal code
that made libelling the president a crime punishable by six months to three
years in prison. CPJ's board member James Goodale, a noted First Amendment
attorney, travelled to Zagreb to present an amicus brief in support of the
defendants.


In June 1996, the two journalists were acquitted in a victory praised by
international and local press freedom advocates as a tribute to the protest
generated against the Croatian government's crackdown. The Croatian
government appealed the acquittal, however, and this May the County Court
overturned the decision to acquit. A new trial on the same charges will be
held. The feisty and irreverent "Feral Tribune" also faces a daunting array
of other lawsuits. Tudjman's daughter, Nevenka Kosutic, has filed two libel
suits against the paper for exposing her commercial activities. Ivancic
faces dozens of other libel suits and harassment charges made against the
editors. He has been slapped with spurious taxes and fines, and castigated
in official speeches as being the product of "anarchists and heretics"
under "foreign influence."


"Feral Tribune" news vendors have been attacked and pro-government thugs
burned bundles of the newspaper in the town square.


But an even greater danger emerged recently when Ivancic and "Feral
Tribune" staff received numerous death threats in response to the
newspaper's bold publication on 1st September of an interview with a former
Croatian policeman who confessed to murdering scores of ethnic Serbs during
Croatia's war for independence. The confession and the subsequent
international attention it received spotlighted the four-year-old "Feral
Tribune", one of the boldest papers in Eastern Europe, and its much-needed
function as one of a handful of national newspapers outside state control
that dare to report on developments generally ignored by the official
press.


YELENA MASYUK, correspondent for NTV, captured the world's attention when
she was kidnapped by Chechen armed rebels on 10 May and held, along with
her two crew members, for 100 days in harsh, inhumane conditions, most of
the time in damp mountain caves. She had covered the Chechen war in 1994
for NTV and had endeavoured "to show the Chechen side of the story, to give
them a chance to tell their point of view, to show how terrible the war was
for civilians and even Russian soldiers," she told CPJ in a recent
interview.


It was Masyuk and NTV that provided the world with in depth coverage of the
fighting in the breakaway republic, coverage that earned her Russia's top
television awards. It also earned her interrogation and threats from
Russia's intelligence services. And two weeks before she was taken captive,
a right-wing Russian newspaper, "Zavtra", carried a Russian colonel's
threat of physical harm to her for her critical coverage of Chechnya.


Although pulled from the Chechen assignment for a time because of threats
against her, Masyuk reluctantly agreed to venture into the secessionist
region again in May on the eve of a peace treaty. Masyuk, cameraman Ilya
Mordyukov, and sound engineer Dmitri Ulchev were released on 18 August, the
101st day of their captivity, also the day of a meeting in Moscow between
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and President Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya.


Although the identity of her captors and the reason for her release are
still unclear, one thing is certain: Yelena Masyuk is driven by a
journalist's need to report the story. "I want the exclusive story, the
story that no one else would be able to get," she told CPJ. Indeed, less
than a month after her release from Chechnya, she was off again on
assignment for NTV to Kamchatka, to report on the high cost but low
standard of living in this remote wilderness region.


At 31, Masyuk is already a seasoned journalist renowned for her bold and
objective reporting. A special correspondent for Russian independent
television since 1994, she has, in addition to covering events in Russia's
"flashpoints" -- the ethnic conflict zones -- reported for NTV from
Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Iran. A journalism graduate of Moscow
State University, she was a media fellow in 1995 at Duke University's
DeWitt Wallace Centre for Communications and Journalism. While in the
United States in May 1996 she testified before Congress about dangers to
journalists in the Chechen war zone. In a region characterized by partisan
journalism where few women rise to prominence in the profession, Masyuk is
an extraordinary exception.


FREEDOM NERUDA chose his name to symbolize his ideals. Born Teiti Roch
D'Assomption in 1956 in the Ivory Coast, he became a teacher after
graduation from the University of Abidjan. In 1988 he began his journalism
career as a copy editor with the daily "Ivoir' Soir" newspaper. Two years
later he was an investigative reporter, first with "Ivoir' Soir", then with
"La Chronique du soir", and next with "La Voie", where he is currently
chief editor. As a journalist, he has lived up to his adopted name. Neruda
has demonstrated unflinching commitment to the cause of press freedom
despite President Henri Konan Bedie's persistent efforts to silence the
independent "La Voie"'s critical coverage of the government's policies and
the actions of its officials. And "La Voie", with a daily circulation of
25,000, has become the country's best-selling independent newspaper since
its founding in 1991.


Freedom Neruda's ordeal began on 18 December 1995, when "La Voie" ran his
satirical article headlined "He Brought Bad Luck to ASEC," which suggested
that the presence of President Bedie at the African Champions Cup final
against South Africa may have brought back luck to the Ivoirien soccer
team, which lost the match. The article poked fun at Bedie's election
campaign poster, which had proclaimed that Bedie was good luck for the
country. On 2 January 1996, Neruda was arrested on charges of seditious
libel.


Two of his colleagues, publisher Abou Drahamane Sangare and reporter
Emmanuel Kore, had been arrested 12 days earlier. Each of the three
journalists was sentenced to two years in prison for "offenses against the
head of state," and "La Voie" was fined and banned for three months. An
appeals court later confirmed the sentences.


President Bedie in a televised statement promised to pardon the "La Voie"
journalists if they agreed to withdraw their appeal to the Supreme Court,
but they immediately rejected that course of action as being tantamount to
accepting the charges. The three were quietly released from prison on 1st
January of this year.


Unfortunately, this was not the first instance of harassment experienced by
Neruda. He and his colleagues of the Nouvelle Horizons Publishing Group,
the parent company, have previously been subjected to routine arrests,
physical assaults, charges of "insulting the dignity of the head of state,"
and levying of excessive fines. In October 1995 their editorial offices
were destroyed by a fire bomb. Freedom Neruda's experiences exemplify those
of many of Africa's dedicated independent journalists. He is a victim of
one of the region's most pernicious abuses: the use of seditious libel
charges to silence the press in democratic states as well as those under
single-party rule or military dictatorship.




Source

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USA
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 465 9568
 
More from International
  • Democracy in Retreat: Freedom in the World 2019

    In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat.

  • List of journalists killed by country in 2018

  • How Apps on Android share data with Facebook (even if you don't have a Facebook account)

    Previous research has shown how 42.55 percent of free apps on the Google Play store could share data with Facebook, making Facebook the second most prevalent third-party tracker after Google’s parent company Alphabet.1 In this report, Privacy International illustrates what this data sharing looks like in practice, particularly for people who do not have a Facebook account.