English » May 7, 2009

2008 Awards

2008 Press Freedom Award Winners

La Presse Journalists win as Courts Again Threaten Journalists’ Duty to Protect their Sources

Russian Cartoonist wins International Editorial Cartoonists Award

Michelle Jean presents the 2008 award to La Presse journalists

Ottawa – May 2, 2008 — Gilles Toupin and Joël-Denis Bellavance of the Ottawa Bureau of La Presse have won the 10th Annual Press Freedom Award of the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF).

2008 First prizeIvan Anchukov of Voronezh, Russia, won the 8th Annual International Competition for Editorial Cartoonists from among 700 cartoons submitted from 40 countries (see winning and runner-up cartoons).

The awards were presented on Friday, May 2, marking World Press Freedom Day (May 3) at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The event had been initiated by retired CBC executive Spencer Moore who tragically passed away just a day beforehand.

The 2008 ceremony included a presentation by veteran CBC Asia correspondent Patrick Brown on “China’s Great Firewall around the Media”, as well as a review of free expression violations in the past year.

“The past year was a tragic one for free expression,” noted David Gollob, Senior Vice-President, Policy and Communications of the Canadian Newspaper Association and Vice-President of the CCWPF.

“We lost 102 media workers who were killed in 2007 for just doing their jobs, making 2007 one of the most deadly years on record.” Gollob also noted that in Canada “the courts continue to threaten press freedom, particularly the duty of journalists to protect their sources, a fact highlighted in this year’s Award nominations.”

The Press Freedom Award includes a cash prize of $2,000, a CCWPF trophy and a certificate of honour from the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In nominating Bellavance and Toupin, the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) said they have taken a “courageous stand in refusing to reveal the confidential source of a secret document, in a case involving a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist.”

The CNA added: “It is vital that the judicial system understand that reporters must not be turned into an investigating arm of the police and security establishment, and that rights of free expression are not inconvenient trifles to be dismissed at whim.”

Bellavance and Toupin have put their personal welfare and reputations at stake in the defence of a core journalistic principle. No Canadian journalist has gone to jail in such a case since the 1960’s but the instances of police and judicial overriding of press freedom in this area have multiplied in recent years (Juliet O’Neill, Andrew McIntosh, and Ken Peters*).

Maclean’s Magazine, nominating Mark Steyn, runner-up for the award, said the decision by federal and provincial human rights commissions to investigate Mr. Steyn and Maclean’s for publishing a book excerpt on the rise of radical Islam, is an “insidious encroachment upon the freedoms of thought, expression and the press”.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) nominated Toronto Star reporter Bill Schiller for his public interest journalism that was the focus of a chilling defamation case.

PEN Canada nominated author Derek Finkle who “did the media and the public a great service” by challenging a subpoena to turn over his research material for his book on a murder case.

In the editorial cartoonist’s competition, on the theme “Re-writing History”, the jury, chaired by Guy Badeaux, Editorial Cartoonist for Le Droit, awarded first prize of $1,500 to Ivan Anchukov, a cartoonist practising in Voronezh, Russia, for his entry depicting the broken arm of a hero’s statue held in a sling and pointing in the opposite direction from the original. Second prize ($750) was won by Gilbert Daroy, Philippines, and Third Prize ($500) by Masoud Ziaei Zardkhashoei, Iran. Cartoons may be viewed at www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca/ with links for downloads.

The Awards are presented by the Canadian Committee on World Press Freedom which has succeeded the National Press Club in its role of monitoring press freedom issues nationally and globally. In 1993 the United Nations declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, with UNESCO as lead agency. It has become the date on which media organizations celebrate
the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom
around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists and authors who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

Sponsors of the luncheon and awards are The Ottawa Citizen, the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA), TELUS, Bank of Montreal, the Brewers’ Association of Canada, Le Droit, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Air Canada, Hill Times/Embassy, Canada News Wire, Thornley Fallis, National Arts Centre, Delta Media, and the Ottawa Business Journal.

Media Contacts: Bob Carty (613) 730-1007 rcarty@sympatico.ca, or
David Gollob (613) 301-6162 (c) dgollob@cna-acj.ca

* O’Neill and McIntosh are both past winners of this award.

Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom
Suite 405 – 350 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7S8