WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 22, 2015 – The Peter Mackler Award, the US branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Agence France-Presse are pleased to announce that Syrian journalist is the 2015 winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. The award will be presented in a ceremony at the National Press Club on October 22, 2015.
Zaina Erhaim, 30, currently lives and works in Aleppo, Syria. Over the last two years, she has trained about 100 citizen reporters from inside Syria, approximately a third of them women, in print and TV journalism, and has helped establish many of the new emerging independent newspapers and magazines in the war torn country. Erhaim is also the Syria project coordinator for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), an international organization that support journalists in countries undergoing conflict, crisis, or transition. Many of Ms. Erhaim’s students, from all walks of life, have been published in major international news outlets. “Zaina Erhaim is a force multiplier of journalistic values in a country torn by violence and irrationality,” said Camille Mackler, the Peter Mackler Award’s project director. “We salute her courage, upholding professional ethics and bringing them to the service of those left to write history.” Syria is currently ranked 177th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. Upon learning that she had received the award, Ms. Erhaim said "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. 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." Delphine Halgand, director of Reporters Without Borders – USA said “by awarding Zaina Erhaim, we pay tribute to the courage of those in Syria who fight for the freedom of information. Syria is the deadliest country for journalists since 2011. Facing harsh oppression, Erhaim is an outstanding journalist and journalism teacher” "Zaina Erhaim has done extraordinary work both in training local residents and journalists who have become nearly the only first-hand source of news on the Syrian conflict and in supporting Syrian women living under siege.” Said David Millikin, Agence France-Presse’s director for North America. “She embodies the ideals which the Peter Mackler Award was created to honor."