Courage in journalism prize awarded to Bulgarian journalist
The sponsors say the award highlights the exemplary role of independent media in scrutinising and exposing the abuse of power. The winning report reveals corruption and illustrates courage and professionalism in its presentation of evidence concerning intimidation and pressure.
Lidiya Pavlova, journalist of the Bulgarian regional newspaper "Struma", will receive the "WAZ-IFJ Prize for Courage in Journalism 2009" for a series of articles in which she reveals mafia-like criminality and corruption in a small Bulgarian town called Dupnitsa. Despite exposing herself to extreme personal risk, she reports about the Galev brothers, so-called businessmen who develop their private interests through political corruption and violence.
"Her exemplary courage in speaking out in the midst of fearful silence, her meticulous gathering and assembling of the relevant and necessary facts, and the style and presentation of her work reflect the core objectives of the Prize", said the international jury of the WAZ-IFJ Prize.
The winner has been working as a reporter and a correspondent for various Bulgarian newspapers for over 15 years. For 12 years she has been reporting for the daily newspaper "Struma", with a special focus on the region Kjustendil in south west Bulgaria. In 2004, Lidiya Pavlova was chosen by the association of Bulgarian regional media as the journalist of the year. This year she received a special prize from the organisation.
Her revelations of rampant crime, violence and political corruption in the town of Dupnitsa became a national scandal. Her investigations began after her own son was a victim of violence. "Applying the trusted methods of the skilful reporter and at great personal risk she meticulously unmasked the damage done to a local community when corrupt relations develop between criminals and those responsible for the protection and welfare of citizens", the jury said.
"Her reporting provides emotional depth in the best traditions of human interest journalism and has particular merit for its local focus and its compelling exposure of the plight of ordinary people when their daily lives are threatened in an atmosphere of intimidation and fear", the jury continues. Lidiya Pavlova and her family are living with the fear of threats due to the courageous report and are living under constant protection from the police.
The "WAZ-IFJ Prize for Courage in Journalism" will be awarded for the first time during the Third South East Europe Media Forum. From the 4th-6th November, high-ranking media representatives from the south east European region will meet in the Albanian capital of Tirana, to discuss the convention topic "Media, Marketing, Business and New Media". The media forum is organised annually by the WAZ Media Group, together with the south east European media programme of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and the journalist organisation SEEMO (South East Europe Media Organisation).
In 2007, the media house of Essen and the Brussels-based IFJ federation agreed upon "a Framework Agreement for the defence and encouragement of freedom of the press, quality journalism and good working relationships". With a focus on this agreement, the WAZ Group and IFJ announced the "Prize for Courage in Journalism" for the first time last year. Print and online journalists or editorial offices from countries in west, middle and south east Europe such as Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, in which the WAZ media group is active in publishing, can apply for the prize. At the same time the "Courage Prize 2009" was also open to authors of WAZ titles and publications from other publishers. Texts and editorial reports were able to be sent in.
The jury, which consisted of the Serbian "Vreme" journalist Dejan Anastasijevic, journalist of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" Hans Leyendecker, the former editor in chief of the Hungarian economical magazine HVG, Ivan Lipovecz, the editor in chief of the "Braunschweiger Zeitung" Paul-Josef Raue and the Croatian lecturer of journalism Gordana Vilovic, made the final decision.
The WAZ Media Group, based in Essen, is one of the largest European media groups. 32 daily and 18 weekly newspapers, 176 special-interest and trade magazines, 107 advertising papers and 400 customer magazines belong to the group. In Germany, the group publishes eleven daily newspapers in North Rhine Westphalia, Thuringia, Lower Saxony and North Bavaria. The four NRW titles 'Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung'(WAZ), 'Westfälische Rundschau' (WR), 'Neue Ruhr / Neue Rhein Zeitung' (NRZ) and 'Westfalenpost' (WP) have a circulation of nearly 1 million. The advertising papers of WVW/ORA are market leaders in Germany and Europe and have a weekly circulation of more than 5 million in NRW alone. The WAZ Media Group, which has 18.000 employees, has majority holdings in eleven local radio broadcasting companies in North Rhine Westphalia and runs the largest regional Internet portal, DerWesten.de, in Germany. In the TV market, the WAZ Media Group has a holding in the German NRW.TV and the Albanian TV-Station 'Vizion+'. In the magazine sector, the WAZ Group owns, among others, the Munich-based publishing house 'Gong Verlag' ('Gong', 'TV direkt'), the newspaper publishing house 'Westdeutscher Zeitschriften-Verlag' ('Neue Welt', 'Frau im Spiegel') and numerous special interest magazines. Outside of Germany, the WAZ Media Group is active in the Austrian newspaper market ('Kronen Zeitung', 'Kurier', and in Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary and in Russia. The group also owns 16 printing works in Germany and abroad.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is the world's largest organisation of journalists. First established in 1926, today the Federation represents around 600.000 members in more than 100 countries. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the regional organisation of the IFJ in Europe and it is the largest organisation of journalists on the continent, representing about 260.000 journalists in over thirty countries. The IFJ and EFJ promote international action to defend press freedom and social justice through strong, free and independent organisations of journalists; foster trade unions to maintain or create environments in which quality media, ethical and independent journalism can be, become or return to be a reality.