Joyce Barnathan – ICFJ
The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) launched a new public awareness campaign to highlight the tremendous impact of journalists around the world. Labeled ‘It Takes a Journalist,’ the campaign focuses on journalists whose reports have made a difference such as getting fake medicines pulled from pharmacy shelves in Kenya, for having landmines removed at the border of Venezuela and Colombia, and for prompting changes in the law to protect women in Pakistan.
“Whatever we are trying to improve in society — better governance, a cleaner environment, elevating the lives of the poorest — it takes a journalist to expose the problems and help us find solutions,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan, speaking at ICFJ’s annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. “Singling out the contributions of journalists is vital at a time when the powerful are deliberately undermining the important role they play in society,” she said.
Barnathan highlighted the work of two journalists who received this year’s Knight International Journalism Award for their outstanding and innovative work. She praised Maria Ressa, whose online news site Rappler, has been attacked by the Philippines government after it exposed tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country’s drug war.
She also pointed to the investigative reporting of Joseph Poliszuk, who was forced to flee Venezuela along with three colleagues after they uncovered how a well-connected businessman exploited a food program for needy Venezuelans.
As part of the campaign, ICFJ released a video about journalists whose reporting led to important impacts or improved the lives of people in their communities. It highlighted the accomplishments of previous award winners such as Carmen Aristegui of Mexico and Roman Anin of Russia. ICFJ honorees say the recognition has encouraged them to continue their work even in the darkest of times for journalists.
“Despite the risks, many of our past honorees have used the Knight award as a springboard to do even greater journalism,” Barnathan said.