Nancy Dane, former associate managing editor of The Washington Post, and other leaders from media organizations across the nation hosted Friday’s 6th annual Freedom of the Press Awards.
Dane said during her acceptance speech that the awards ceremony, which honored courageous reporters around the country and in the war-torn countries of Somalia and Syria, was “for those of us who love these people and want to stand in solidarity with them.”
“In these increasing repressive world circumstances, how do we put value on the words of a reporter when this year there are 13 imprisoned journalists for their reporting, as compared to 37 in 1986?” Dane asked. “Or when this year there are nearly 50 reporters murdered for their job, as compared to 30 in 1989?”
The Freedom of the Press Awards honors people or companies that continue to “uphold journalistic principles in the face of outright hostility and intimidation from those who are in power.” The Awards have now given out a total of $360,000 in grants to support independent journalism and the safe and independent publication of news.
Kate Albright-Hanna, Washington Post assistant news editor, also accepted a prize on behalf of her fellow journalists.
In a recent column on International Women’s Day, Albright-Hanna urged women to remember women’s lives aren’t “meaningless fragments.”
“We have a common language of stories, and we all share a common responsibility to demand that our women be allowed to tell them.”
Journalists and “defense attorneys are among the very first to engage in political acts of protecting journalists,” Dane said. “These heroic people, at great personal risk, protect the most compelling aspects of our stories.”
Jessica Lustig, former foreign correspondent for The Daily Beast, highlighted positive stories she uncovered of journalists who provided aid and information to keep foreign correspondents alive during the height of the Iraq war in 2004.
Lustig shared a story of one photographer whose health insurance company refused to pay for his heart medication to treat complications from a lack of glucose, an insulin medication. After the photographers colleagues supported him, the photographer managed to get the medication and lived another five years, according to Lustig.
“Today, we know of four news organizations that experienced actual violence from sources who were sympathetic to journalists as targets,” she said. “Over 80 journalists have been killed since 2014 for simply doing their jobs. That’s 120 journalists killed since 2005.”
Dana Moss, president of the National Press Club, echoed Lustig’s comments about keeping sources alive in dangerous war zones while addressing the same issue earlier this week.
Since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, journalists have been forced to become more innovative as a means of reporting, said Moss, who authored “In Fear: Inside the Cover-up of Murder, Torture, and War Crimes in President George W. Bush’s CIA.”
Moss said, “There is a gravitas about covering an administration that, frankly, is beyond anything we’ve seen in our time… journalist after journalist has faced incredible odds to speak out truthfully about who they are and what they’re covering.”
Despite the threats journalists and other journalists have received, Moss said this is nothing new for the press.
“We’ve seen administrations try to restrict or curtail the First Amendment time and time again,” Moss said. “Sadly, the fact is that America has always been at the forefront of the fight to free the press.”