Journalists from Malta, India, the Philippines and the UK honoured at Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 Press Freedom Awards

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) held its annual Press Freedom Awards in London for the first time ever on 8 November 2018.
The three international awards for Courage, Impact, and Independence went to Swati Chaturvedi from India, Matthew Caruana Galizia from Malta, and Inday Espina-Varona from the Philippines.
A special ‘L’esprit de RSF’ prize created for the UK media to mark London’s hosting of the prestigious Press Freedom Awards was awarded to The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr for her investigations into Brexit campaign funding.

London 08.11.18. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) honoured journalists from India, Malta, the Philippines, and the UK at its 2018 Press Freedom Awards this evening.

The prestigious annual awards ceremony, held in London for the first time ever this year, was presented by Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News’ Chief International Correspondent, and biographer of war correspondent Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria in 2012.

Other noteworthy participants who spoke at the awards included BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, former RSF award winners Can Dundar and Zaina Erhaim, Chinese dissident activist Wu’er Kaixi, Fleet Street legend Eve Pollard, and media commentator Roy Greenslade.

The ceremony highlighted the importance of press freedom and safety of journalists, especially in the wake of the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Prize for Courage was awarded to Swati Chaturvedi, the Indian journalist and author of the book “I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army.” NDTV columnist Chaturvedi has been the target of vicious online harassment campaigns, like many other outspoken journalists in India.

The Prize for Impact was awarded to Matthew Caruana Galizia, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maltese journalist and activist whose mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was assassinated in 2017 following her investigations into corruption.

The Prize for Independence went to veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona from the Philippines, for her extensive reporting on sensitive issues and her marshaling of the #BabaeAko campaign, the Filipino equivalent of #MeToo that is fighting back against the misogyny of the Duterte regime.

A special ‘L’Esprit de RSF’ Prize was also created for the UK media, to mark London’s first-ever hosting of the awards. This went to The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr for her investigations into the subversion of democratic processes in the US and UK, which exposed the role of Cambridge Analytica in the Trump and Brexit campaigns.

Every year I am astounded by the quality and passion of journalists around the world who put their safety at risk in pursuit of the truth, and it is an honour to be able to highlight the work of these courageous individuals.

“ We hope that this recognition will offer them vital support and protection as they carry on their important work in the face of growing pressure against independent media in their home countries,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“Two years after the opening of RSF’s UK bureau, we were delighted to be able to hold this globally important event here in London for the first time. London’s media and press freedom communities coming together to celebrate the work of these courageous individuals reinforces the fact that Britain cares deeply about these values, and shows the world’s press freedom predators that we will take a stand for our colleagues wherever they are at risk,” said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.

Established in 1992, previous winners of RSF’s Press Freedom Awards include the renowned late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, courageous Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim, and embattled Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

This year’s awards were selected by a high-profile international jury, including notable figures such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and Chinese activist Wu’er Kaixi - both RSF emeritus board members - as well as RSF President Pierre Haski. RSF’s UK advisory board - including Fleet Street legend Eve Pollard, former Director of BBC News James Harding, Channel 4 News Anchor Jon Snow, and media commentator Roy Greenslade - selected the winner of the special ‘L’esprit de RSF’ prize.


The Prize for Courage: Swati Chaturvedi, India

The Prize for Courage is awarded to journalists, media or NGOs who demonstrate courage in the practice, defence or promotion of journalism in a hostile environment and despite threats to their freedom or safety.

A freelance reporter for print and broadcast media, Swati Chaturvedi has been the target of vicious online harassment campaigns, like many other outspoken journalists in India. She responded by using journalistic weapons, investigating the “IT cell” within the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is notorious for keeping an army of angry trolls. The result was a book entitled I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army. In retaliation for her reporting, Swati Chaturvedi is now even more exposed to calls for revenge by social media trolls.

The Prize for Impact: Matthew Caruana Galizia, Malta

The Prize for Impact is awarded to journalists, media or NGOs whose work has led to concrete improvement in journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism, or to an increase in awareness of these matters.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and software engineer, Matthew Caruana Galizia worked at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for five years, where he co-founded its Data and Research Unit. He left the ICIJ in 2018 to focus on the case of his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia, herself an investigative journalist who was assassinated by a car bomb near her home in Malta in October 2017. He has worked tirelessly to obtain justice for his mother's murder and for the crimes she exposed, to galvanise the international community, and to hold the Maltese authorities to account.

The Prize for Independence: Inday Espina-Varona, Philippines

The Prize for Independence is awarded to journalists, media or NGOs for resisting pressure (including financial, political, economic or religious pressure) or because of the values and rules that enable them to resist.

A veteran journalist who is very active on social networks, Inday Espina-Varona is now a contributing editor at the Philippine broadcast network ABS-CBN, where she formerly ran its citizen journalism website Bayan Mo i-Patrol Mo (BMPM). Over the years, she has reported extensively on issues that are sensitive in the Philippines, such as child prostitution, violence against women, LGBT issues and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the island of Mindanao. In June 2018, Espina-Varona took over as the head of #BabaeAko (“Me, a woman” in Tagalog), a social media campaign that informs and mobilises the public on women’s rights issues in response to Duterte’s many misogynistic comments and attacks on women.

L’Esprit de RSF: Carole Cadwalladr

'L'esprit de RSF' is a special prize created this year to honour a UK journalist, media organisation, or NGO, that has demonstrated exceptional courage, achieved tremendous impact, or shown independence in the face of significant pressure. The nominees have met the criteria for one of the other awards categories ('Courage', 'Impact', or 'Independence'), embodying the spirit of RSF in their work in the UK or on behalf of a UK media organisation or NGO abroad.

An award-winning reporter for The Guardian and The Observer, Carole Cadwalladr’s reporting on the manipulation and subversion of democratic processes in the US and UK resulted in the exposure of the role of Cambridge Analytica and its satellite AggregateIQ in the Trump and Brexit campaigns. Cadwalladr’s investigation found that the data analytics firm that worked with Trump’s election team in the US and the Leave campaign in the UK harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest-ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software programme to predict and influence choice at the ballot box. She continues to face pressure and harassment in backlash for her reporting.

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Updated on 08.11.2018