News

August 22, 2016 - Updated on August 23, 2016

Burundi Reporter Wins Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism

Credit : SOS Médias Burundi/Le Monde/Eloge Willy Kaneza
Journalist Eloge Willy Kaneza of Burundi has been named the winner of the 2016 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. The award is presented by the Global Media Forum in collaboration with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Agence France-Presse (AFP). The award will be presented in a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on October 13.

Kaneza, 34, is the public face of SOS Media Burundi, a collective of mostly anonymous journalists that emerged after the closure of radio stations during the May 2015 coup attempt against President Pierre Nkurunziza. Using smartphones and mobile applications, Kaneza and his colleagues work under difficult circumstances as the only source of news for their countrymen and those outside Burundi.


“Not only does Eloge Kaneza embody the journalistic values the Peter Mackler Award seeks to honor, he and his colleagues have also found creative ways to push back on repression using online technologies,” said PMA Project Director Camille Mackler. “He is a role model.”


Here’s what other journalists are saying about Eloge Willy Kaneza:


“The authorities and uncontrolled armed groups have become the number one menace for journalists in the country. In such a context, continuing to do your work as a journalist with such integrity and courage is absolutely remarkable. Eloge deserves this award that is not only a testimony to his work, but a strong message of hope sent to the whole Burundian journalistic community.” - Clea Kahn-Sriber, RSF Africa Desk.


“Not only is Eloge not afraid, but he is also an excellent reporter who strives to get both sides of the story; his survival in this very troubled country could be due to his fairness.” - Nengussie Mengesa Director, African Division, Voice of America.


Esdras Ndikumana, correspondent for Agence France-Presse and Radio France Internationale, who was forced into exile after being attacked by intelligence agents, said recently that without SOS Media Burundi, he wouldn’t be able to provide his readers and listeners with any information from the country.


Eloge studied audiovisual communications in Bujumbura's Université Lumière. He also attended a Reporters Without Borders workshop on cyber security in Bujumbura, along with other SOS Media Burundi reporters, to learn how to protect communications online.


He speaks English, French and Swahili.


Since 2008, the Peter Mackler Award has recognized those journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where press freedom is challenged. It honors the memory of the veteran AFP journalist who was dedicated to mentoring young journalists.


The Award ceremony will take place on October 13, 2016 at 6PM at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, 529 14th St. N.W, 13th Fl.; Washington, DC 20045. The ceremony will be followed by a networking hour.


Burundi is ranked 156 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2016 World Press Freedom Index, falling 11 places since the 2015 index.