Columbia University's School of Journalism has awarded its top prize in international reporting to Andrew Meldrum, the freelance reporter kicked out of Zimbabwe for his reports on brutalities and crackdowns by the Mugabe regime.
The prestigious journalism school is honoring Mr. Meldrum with its Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism. The awards committee says it is recognizing Andrew Meldrum's "remarkable courage, commitment and lucidity" in more than 20 years of reporting on the brutality of the Mugabe regime and the suffering of the Zimbabwean people. The director of the school's international program, Josh Friedman, is a member of the award committee.
"Andrew Meldrum was honored for a body of work that was compiled over a number of years that he lived in Zimbabwe,? Mr. Friedman said. ?He often ran into tremendous opposition from the government and overcame it up to the point where he got kicked out."
Mr. Meldrum, an American citizen who graduated from Columbia's Journalism School, spent more than two decades in Zimbabwe, mostly working as a freelance reporter for the British newspaper, The Guardian. He was expelled in 2002 immediately after a court acquitted him of charges of publishing falsehoods in what was widely viewed as a test case for media in Zimbabwe.
A second award, honoring local reporting in nations in transition, was given to Romanian investigative reporter Liviu Avram for his ongoing expose of a Cabinet minister who diverted European Union funds to her family and front companies. Josh Friedman says the award to Mr. Avram recognizes the determination reporters need in nations that do not have traditions of tolerance for investigative journalism.
"This guy is intrepid. He is incredible. He is a traditional muckraking investigator. He was burrowing in and they could not stop him and he exposed this situation," Mr. Friedman said.
The winners will each receive $5000. The awards were established to honor freelance journalist Kurt Schork, who was killed in a military ambush while on assignment for the Reuters news agency in 2000 in Sierra Leone.