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Four Journalists Honored with Press Freedom Awards

The press freedom organization Committee To Protect Journalists is honoring four international journalists for their work around the world. The committee is dedicated to protecting the freedom of journalists to report the news. VOAs Carolyn Presutti has the profiles of this year's winners.

Put yourself in the place of the journalist who takes pictures of conflict. You are obviously in danger, yet you continue telling the story.

Journalists are driven by the public's right to know. They often put their lives and freedom on the line to report the news. It is in this spirit that four journalists have won the 2007 International Press Freedom Awards.

Dmitry Muratov is the editor of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. His paper uncovered a flamethrower used at the Beslan school hostage massacre. His investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya wrote articles critical of the Chechen conflict before she was shot dead. He appeals to serious readers.

"The people who are interested in democratic values, who believe the society must control the government, not the other way around," says Muratov.

Adella Navarro Bello's magazine, Zeta, covers crime along the U.S.-Mexican border. She says she works in a war zone of corruption. Two of her managers have been murdered, yet she continues to publish. "As journalists, we are at risk because the government doesn't do anything,” she says. “If the journalist is affected or attacked, the government does nothing at all."

Protests broke out when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3rd. Mazhar Abbas's Ary One World Television was shut down, regardless of his arguments to stay on the air. "We tried to say it's a newborn electronic media in Pakistan,” says Abba, “hardly four to five years back, and you have to accept this and let the media organization decide among themselves what kind of code of conduct they should follow."

There is one journalist missing from the winners. The committee says reporter Geo Qinrong of China exposed a corrupt irrigation project.

Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists explains. "This was a terrific story, but instead of getting a journalism award, which he fully deserved, he got eight years in jail."

Geo served his sentence, but China did not grant him a passport to travel to the U.S. These award-winning journalists will appear at a black tie banquet Tuesday (November 20th) in New York City, where they will be honored for reporting the news despite the obstacles each faced.