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International Press Institute Honors Exceptional Journalists

Port of Spain, Trinidad, July 5, 2012 – Three journalists who have been outstanding in their bravery and commitment to press freedom received awards from the International Press Institute (IPI) for their work, at a ceremony that was the highlight of the IPI’s recent 61st World Congress.

The awards dinner, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, honored IPI’s latest World Press Freedom Hero, David Rohde, a Thomson Reuters columnist and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Rohde’s notable career has included reports from Bosnia and Afghanistan where he was held in captivity by the Taliban for more than seven months. For additional details on his career, please see:

Receiving IPI’s 2012 Free Media Pioneer Award was the 34 Multimedia Magazine, founded and published by Iryna Vidanava. The youth-oriented publication was forced to change to a digital format to circumvent the repressive regime in Belarus which shut down its earlier print version in 2005. 

A special citation was also given posthumously to Sir Etienne Dupuch OBE, editor and publisher of the Nassau Tribune for 54 years, who held the record for being the world’s longest serving editor. His award was accepted by his grandson Robert Carron.

In honoring these outstanding journalists, IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said, “we get to the heart of what IPI is all about.”

In accepting his award, Mr. Rohde said he did so on behalf of all journalists everywhere who continue to report under difficult conditions. He said that the local journalists, not those on foreign assignment, are often the ones who face the greatest dangers in doing their jobs.

“Politicians, businessmen and criminals note your reporting…" he continued. “Local journalism around the world is more important and powerful than it has ever been.” He added that by their fearless and balanced reporting, local journalists make it harder for those engaged in crime and corruption to delude themselves about their corrupt practices or to rationalize them.

Ms. Vidanava also accepted her award “on behalf of all the creative and committed pioneers and innovators of Belarusian independent media”. She spoke of the Belarusian authorities’ efforts to suppress all free speech, earning itself the name “Predator of the Press”. However, she said, the repression has led to the press in Belarus becoming more creative and adaptive, many of them changing to online or digital formats to circumvent the authorities. She said, “Online, we are winning the information war against state propaganda.”

Mr. Carron, in accepting the award on behalf of his grandfather Sir Etienne Dupuch, said his grandfather had greatly appreciated the support of the IPI, Commonwealth Press Union, and Inter-American Press Association, without which his fight to maintain a free press in the face of much governmental opposition in the Bahamas might have been lost.

Former Miss Universe, Wendy Fitzwilliams, was the emcee for the evening, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Communications, Mr. Winston Dookeran, delivered the opening address.

Free Expression Rapporteurs Issue Joint Declaration

The world’s four free expression rapporteurs today unveiled a joint declaration calling for international mechanisms to address crimes against freedom of expression.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Catalina Botero and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information Pansy Tlakula released the declaration during a press conference at the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 2012 World Congress in Trinidad and Tobago.

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Workshop Offers Caribbean Journalists Tips on Covering Corruption

Regional journalists on Saturday received valuable insights on how to spot and investigate possible corruption, at a one-day seminar organised by the International Press Institute (IPI) in collaboration with the Investigative News Network, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The workshop preceded IPI’s June 24-26 World Congress in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

One of the trainers at the seminar, Sheila Coronel, professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, told the delegates that one way to spot possible malfeasance was “to look at what was to be the ultimate product, how much was to be delivered and how much was actually delivered”. She added: “The difference represents the amount of corruption.” Coronel cited as an example construction projects in which four bridges might have been contracted for but only two were built. “Half of [the money for the bridges] went as bribes,” she said.
Brant Houston, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois, said it was also important to measure performance against standards. “A lot of times we get into stories before being sure what the standard is.”
Lisa Gibbs, board member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, said that among the best tools for investigating corruption “are public record laws”. She said that in using documents, journalists could “look for patterns, trends,” adding: “Then take that to the people. I am more likely to get the attention of whistle-blowers if I am armed with the data.”

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