The annual Courage in Journalism Awards went to three female reporters Wednesday for their work in an increasingly dangerous profession. Three journalists literally risked their lives for the truth.
The International Women's Media Foundation honored a Canadian journalist working in Kabul on September 11, 2001, a Russian reporter writing on the war in Chechnya, and a third journalist reporting on government corruption in her native Zimbabwe at the 13th annual ceremony of the Courage in Journalism Awards.
CNN Television anchor Judy Woodruff says the awards are more important than ever before. Since the events of September 11, Ms. Woodruff says that now domestic journalists in the United States understand the dangers reporters face across the globe. "The award and the awardees stand as clear reminders of the freedoms that are worth fighting for - the freedom of expression being one of the most precious," she said. "These women of courage each made it their personal mission to take on this fight without regard to the forces that seek to stop them, and without regard to their own physical safety."
The recipients include Pakistan-based Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press who was in Afghanistan on September 11 and in the turbulent months that followed, and Anna Politkovskaya of Moscow's Novaya Gazeta who risks her life on a daily basis reporting on the Russian war in Chechnya.
A third journalist, Sandra Nyaira of the independent Daily News in Harare, Zimbabwe, was arrested and charged with criminal defamation. The International Women's Media Foundation says she continues to receive constant harassment from the government.
Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was at the ceremony to dedicate a special tribute to the nine journalists killed last year in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including her husband. "I think Danny had the kind of courage it takes to go and see first-hand for himself, but Danny's true courage was of the most important kind - the courage to live up to himself and to his committment to truth on a daily basis," she said.
A Lifetime Achievement Award went to the Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory, who has worked as a journalist for 60 years, receiving the award for breaking ground for female journalists at a time when women reporters were few and far between.
Ms. McGrory received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1975. "When I came on and covered campaigns in the 50s and 60s, I was sometimes one, at the most two, in a group of 92 men," she said. "I want to tell you a dirty little secret - that isn't the worst thing that could happen to you."
Ms. McGrory thanked the International Women's Media Foundation for its work in strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide. The Foundation believes that no media is truly free unless women share an equal voice.