Reporters Without Borders have been awarding for 29 years now journalists or media for their notable contribution to the defence or promotion of freedom of the press in the world.
Two women and one consortium are the winners of the 2021 awards that have been given in three categories – journalistic courage, impact and independence. Six journalists and six media outlets or journalists’ organisations from a total of 11 countries were nominated.
The 2021 Prize for Courage goes to the Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan.
Zhang Zhan has been one of the main sources of independent information regarding the COVID pandemic outbreak in Wuhan, in February 2020, with live-streaming reports in social media.
She was arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. She went on hunger strike in an effort to defend her rights and she ended up force-fed and her life is currently in danger.
‘Zhang Zhan reminds us how chinese authorities control the media […] We still do not know how many people have been arrested and prosecuted since the pandemic outbreak, nor how many people would still be alive if the initial pandemic hadn’t been covered up’, said the person who received the award on her behalf.
The 2021 Prize for Impact has been awarded to the Pegasus Project.
The Pegasus Project is a coordinated investigation by an international consortium of more than 80 journalists from 17 media outlets in 11 different countries, led by the NGO Forbidden Stories with technical support from experts at Amnesty International’s Security Lab.
The investigation revealed that around 200 journalists from all around the world were targeted by 11 governments, democratic as well as autocratic- with the use of Pegasus, a spyware made by the Israeli company NSO.
The 2021 Prize for Independence goes to the Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona.
Before joining the Turkish TV channel TRT and relocating to Istanbul, this Palestinian journalist was often harassed and prosecuted by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities for her critical reporting. She has been stranded in the West Bank since 2019, but continues reporting from there.