CJFE honours journalists and newspaper with Press Freedom Awards

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression honours two journalists and a Russian news outlet with 12th annual press freedom awards, for their fearlessness in the face of adversity

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), is proud to recognize reporter Jila Baniyaghoub of Iran and the Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta with the 2009 International Press Freedom Awards for extraordinary courage and overcoming tremendous odds to report the news. CJFE is also pleased to recognize Canadian writer and journalist Terry Gould with the Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award for his commitment to highlighting attacks on the media and tackling this issue despite personal risk.

“The journalists and the news outlet that we are honouring this year have defiantly stood their ground to report the news despite great personal risk, the threat of persecution and daunting circumstances,” said Carol Off, Chair of the CJFE Awards committee. “The honourees’ steadfast devotion to journalistic integrity and freedom of the press gives us hope that we can battle the culture of impunity that threatens journalists around the world.”

12th Annual International Press Freedom Awards Gala, December 9, 2009, Toronto
The 12th annual International Press Freedom Awards will be held at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto on Wednesday, December 9, 2009. This year’s event is hosted by Lloyd Robertson, anchor of CTV National News and Heather Hiscox, Host of CBC News: Morning.  We will also feature a special report on the culture of impunity that allows the murder of journalists to go unpunished. More than 500 reporters have been killed on the job in the past decade, many of them were murdered – 90 per cent of these crimes have gone unpunished.

The CJFE awards gala is made possible by the support of returning Evening Sponsor Scotiabank, Platinum Sponsor CTV and Reception Sponsor CBC News, along with the valued support of other organizations and individuals across the media, legal, academic and business communities.

The International Press Freedom Awards annually recognize the strength and bravery of foreign journalists who overcome life-threatening obstacles in order to report what is taking place in their countries.

2009 International Press Freedom Award Winners
Novaya Gazeta is one of the only independent news outlets in Russia and has gained international attention due to the murders of four of its staff members. Novaya Gazeta’s journalists frequently investigate and publish articles that are critical of the state, unearth corruption or expose human rights abuses. There have been other murder attempts and the outlet’s journalists have been beaten, arrested, kept under surveillance by police and subjected to lengthy interrogations. Despite the tragic deaths of their colleagues and continual harassment, Editor Dmitry Muratov, and Deputy Editor Sergei Sokolov doggedly continue to keep the newspaper alive and true to its goals of freedom of the press.

Jila Baniyaghoub is an Iranian editor and journalist as well as a prominent women’s rights activist. Baniyaghoub edits Kanoon Zanan Irani (Focus on Iranian Women), a news website focused on women’s rights and covers government and social oppression, especially as these issues relate to women, for the Iranian newspaper Sarmayeh. Baniyaghoub’s work and defiance of censorship attempts has made her a target and she has been beaten, arrested and imprisoned several times over the span of her career. Most recently, she was arrested as part of the latest media crackdown in Iran following disputed election results.

The Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award recognizes Canadian journalists who highlight cases of media repression or censorship that may involve difficult-to-obtain access to information requests or have taken personal risks or suffered physical reprisals while working as a journalist. Previous winners include Michel Auger, Zahra Kazemi and Guy Andre Kieffer.

2009 Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award
Terry Gould is an award-winning freelance investigative journalist and has authored a recently published book, “Murder without Borders: Dying for the Story in the World’s Most Dangerous Places,” which examines impunity, media repression, and censorship and portrays the lives of seven brave journalists killed because of their work. At great personal risk, Gould travelled to some of the most dangerous countries for journalists: Colombia, Russia, Philippines, Bangladesh and Iraq to interview the journalists’ families, friends and sometimes their murderers in order to ensure that their stories are told.
About Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. CJFE has a history of work on cases pertaining to media law and freedom of expression.

Full biographies can be found at www.cjfe.org