News

November 8, 2018 - Updated on November 9, 2018

The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr wins Reporters Without Borders’ ‘L’esprit de RSF’ award

  • 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 subversion of democratic processes in the UK and US.
  • The UK is ranked 40th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

London 08.11.18. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) honoured The Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr 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.


A special ‘L’esprit de RSF’ Prize was given to The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr. 'L'esprit de RSF' was created this year, to mark London’s first-ever hosting of the awards, 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, 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, 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.


Rebecca Vincent, RSF UK Bureau Director, said: "The jury overwhelmingly voted for Carole Cadwalladr, who truly represents the spirit of RSF in the UK. Her reporting on interference in the Brexit campaign here in the UK and the Trump campaign in the US has underscored the vital importance of our democratic institutions, and the need to protect them - including the media itself. The severe backlash she continues to face is a testament to the impact of her reporting, and we are proud to honour her with this special new award.”


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.


“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.


This year’s awards were made possible thanks to the generous support of TV5MONDE - a long-standing partner of RSF’s Press Freedom Awards - along with 4 New Square Solicitors, the European Publishers Council, and Heineken. RSF is grateful for these kind contributions.



OTHER RSF 2018 PRESS FREEDOM AWARD WINNERS


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.


Ends.


Notes for editors:

  • The RSF 2018 Press Freedom Awards took place on 8 November at the Getty Images Gallery in London.
  • Prizes were awarded to journalists from around the world for Courage (Swati Chaturvedi, India), Impact (Matthew Caruana Galizia, Malta), and Independence (Inday Espina-Varona, the Philippines). A special new award was also created for the UK, ‘L’esprit de RSF,’ which went to Carole Cadwalladr.
  • The international award winners are available in London for interviews on 8 and 9 November.

For more information, interview requests, and images contact RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent at [email protected] or +44 (0) 7583 137 751 / Padraig Reidy, Editorial Director, 89up at [email protected] or +44 (0) 7947 242 476.