Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Syrian journalist, Turkish paper win media freedom prizes

Syrian journalist, Turkish paper win media freedom prizes

Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim, Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet and an Ethiopian bloggers' collective have all won Reporters without Borders' annual prize for their hard work towards press freedoms.
A Syrian journalist who lives and works in the war-scarred city of Aleppo was awarded the Reporters without Borders [RSF] Prize in France on Tuesday for her defence of press freedom.

The Paris-based media rights group singled out Zaina Erhaim for her "determination and courage" in covering the conflict in Syria, which is deemed the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

"When living in horror for all these years, it is normal to feel abandoned and forget that there is someone listening or reading to our stories and that she or he actually cares," Erhaim told RSF in August.

"It is such initiatives that make me feel that I, with my Syrian colleagues, do matter, and that our hard work is appreciated and it gives power to go on in my daily surviving battle," she added.

Over the past two years Erhaim has trained around a hundred print and television journalists, a third of them women. Her efforts have led to the emergence of a number of independent newspapers and magazines.

Her uncle accepted the prize on her behalf at a ceremony in the French city of Strasbourg.

     Ethiopian bloggers' collective Zone 9 won the Citizen Journalist award
RSF also honoured centre-left Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, which won the watchdog's Media of the Year prize for its "independent and courageous journalism".

In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought a criminal complaint against the paper for publishing a video it said showed a convoy of vehicles bound for Syria with weapons supplied by the Turkish intelligence agency.

Erdogan vowed the paper's editor-in-chief would pay "a heavy price" for the report which raised questions about Turkey's involvement in the Syrian conflict.

The paper was also the first in the Muslim world to reprint parts of the first Charlie Hebdo issue - featuring a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed - released after January's deadly Islamist attacks on the French satirical magazine in Paris.

RSF's Citizen Journalist of the Year award went to Zone 9, an Ethiopian bloggers' collective that regularly denounces rights abuses in the east African country.

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