International group honors courageous women journalists
A widely known investigative journalist loses her life in a violent blast.
A TV critic reveals a sexual assault by a network executive in a first-person account.
A young intern finds herself caught up in mob violence after a peaceful vigil.
All these are women journalists who displayed courage doing their jobs, along with hundreds more around the world. Which is why each year the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) gives its annual Courage in Journalism award during separate events during the month of October. This year, it will also give out its inaugural Gwen Ifill Awards.
The six 2017 award winners are to be recognized in person at ceremonies to be emceed by Cynthia McFadden (NBC News) and Norah O’Donnell (CBS News) in New York on Oct. 18; by Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour and this year's Poynter Lifetime Achievement Award honoree) in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23,; and by Willow Bay (USC Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication) and actress Natalie Morales in Los Angeles on Oct. 25.
“Unfortunately, the global challenges for women journalists continue to increase each year rather than decline. These women have taken great personal risk to bring to light some of the most important global stories of our time,” said the IWMF’s executive director, Elisa Lees Muñoz, in a news release.
She added, “From New York to Washington, D.C., to Charlottesville, VA, to Los Angeles, from Delhi to Sana'a, each region across the world faces its own difficulties in women’s journalism. That’s why we are embarking on a city-to-city tour to honor these women, and we have an international effort going on through the entire month of October to honor #journoheroes online.”
This year's award winners include:
· Deborah Amos (United States), Middle East reporter for National Public Radio (NPR)
· Saniya Toiken (Kazakhstan), a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty;
· Hadeel al-Yamani (Yemen), the first woman to become an Al Jazeera Arabic television correspondent in Yemen.
· Andrea Mitchell, long-time Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News and host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports," who is this year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner
At the events, the IWMF also will announce the winner of its first Gwen Ifill Award, which was named in honor of the legendary PBS NewsHour broadcaster and recognizes an outstanding woman journalist of color who carries forward Ifill's legacy of mentorship, leadership and commitment to diversity in journalism.
Here’s a closer look at some of the honorees:
Deborah Amos | United States
Middle East Correspondent, NPR News; @deborahamos
Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News; her reports can be heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. A seasoned journalist with nearly 40 years of experience working from conflict zones, Amos covered such world-changing events as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the first Gulf War, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the “Arab Spring” series of popular revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa. She witnessed the successful revolution in Eastern Europe amid the fall of the Soviet Union. Amos has reported on an ongoing basis from Syria, covering the country’s violent and protracted crisis. She has worked from numerous front lines; she was kidnapped in Somalia and detained in the Balkans and Iran, among other dangers.
Saniya Toiken | Kazakhstan
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Saniya Toiken is a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kazakhstan, where journalists are routinely threatened, beaten, or killed because of their work. Toiken has been reporting on workers’ rights, government corruption, and a variety of social and political stories in Kazakhstan and across the Central Asian states, where dictatorial regimes work to silence independent media. Toiken has been repeatedly harassed and threatened for her work. She has been a target of government scrutiny since at least 2010, when she was run off the road after traveling to cover oil and gas workers’ rights. In 2012, Toiken was evicted from her apartment due to false claims made against her in retaliation for reporting on Kazakh security authorities. Her family and friends have also been harassed.
Hadeel al-Yamani | Yemen
Al Jazeera Arabic
Hadeel al-Yamani is the first woman to become an Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA) television correspondent in Yemen, a country that routinely ranks in the bottom tier for women’s rights around the world. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that al-Yamani came into her own as journalist during a period of extreme upheaval, as she works from the front lines of Yemen’s brutal conflict. She is always the only woman present, microphone in hand, wearing body armor that covers her abaya and hijab as she brings news to the world of a crisis that is often forgotten. In this grueling and dangerous job, al-Yamani covers the humanitarian issues that affect Yemen’s most vulnerable. As al-Yamani has become more accepted as a war correspondent in Yemen, she has paved the way for other women journalists in the country to make their voices heard.
Andrea Mitchell | United States
Chief foreign affairs correspondent, NBC News, @mitchellreports
Andrea Mitchell has been a leading reporter at NBC News for nearly 40 years, and is currently the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” She has extensive experience as a political reporter, and as a lead correspondent for numerous presidential campaigns and administrations, including seven presidents. Mitchell has closely covered the complex U.S.-Cuban relationship for decades and led network coverage of the historic thaw with the island country, beginning in 2014. Mitchell’s past assignments for NBC News have included exclusive reports from North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Bosnia, Kosovo, Pakistan and Haiti. Among her many accolades, she has been honored with the Matrix Award, the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Leonard Zeidenberg Award.
Also present in New York and Los Angeles will be Stephanie Sinclair, winner of the IWMF’s 2017 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Awards and founder of Too Young to Wed.