(IFJ/IFEX) – The following is an IFJ press release: IFJPrize 99: A Celebration of Tolerance in Journalism Journalism Winners as Europe Struggles Against Intolerance “The crisis of intolerance in Europe – from violence in Kosovo, to a surge of support for political extremists in Austria and racism among police in Britain – puts fresh responsibility […]
(IFJ/IFEX) – The following is an IFJ press release:
IFJPrize 99: A Celebration of Tolerance in Journalism
Journalism Winners as Europe Struggles Against Intolerance
“The crisis of intolerance in Europe – from violence in Kosovo, to a surge
of support for political extremists in Austria and racism among police in
Britain – puts fresh responsibility on journalists and news media,” said the
jury announcing the winners of the 1999 IFJPrize. Three journalists from
the press, radio and television sectors will be awarded on 19 March at the
Council of Europe, Strasbourg for their contribution to the struggle against
intolerance and xenophobia. The winners are:
Peter Richter for “Schröders fremder Sohn weckt die deutsche Provinz”,
“Schröder’s foreign son rouses the German provinces”. Published in the
German daily Neues Deutschland.
Alan Rook for “Fascist Fears” a 10-minute news programme shown on the UK
regional broadcaster, Meridian Television.
Albrecht Kieser for “Jeder ist hier nur ein Rädchen”, “Everyone is just a
cog in the machine”, broadcast on Deutschland Radio and Funkhaus Köln.
A Special commendation was also awarded to Nick Ryan for “Memoirs of a
Street-fighting Man”, published in the Independent on Sunday.
“The need to promote journalism for tolerance is as great as ever,” said Luc
Demaret, chair of the jury. “If the world is to successfully fight against
hatred and violence, it needs information which is objective, fearless,
unbiased and professional. The role of journalists whether in television,
radio or the written media is therefore essential”.
Peter Richter told the story of Martin Agyare, an anti-government activist
in Ghana, forced to seek asylum in 1992. Badly injured after being thrown
from a Berlin train by skinheads, an ordinary German family faced down local
hostility to take Martin in and adopt him as their son.
The jury said the piece sent “a strong signal about collective
responsibility in the fight against racism and xenophobia and shows how, by
resisting pressure from friends and neighbours, an ordinary family can bring
about a change in mentality and attitudes in a entire community.”
Alan Rook produced a powerful description of how the extreme right-wing
British National Party plans to exploit resentment against refugees in Kent
during this year’s European elections.
In a short but forceful piece, “Fascist Fears” explores the issues from
every angle. Rook interviewed all the major protagonists and did not shirk
from the racist bigotry of one BNP leader, but contrasted him sharply with
the real actors, dealing and working with the refugees themselves. The Jury
noted, in particular, the effort he made to place the situation in a global
With an intelligent use of statistics, Alan Rook shows that for all the
anxiety in Europe over economic migrants, the countries with the largest and
most severe refugee problems are also some of the poorest. In fact, only one
per cent of the world’s entire refugee population can be found in Europe.
Finally, Albrecht Kieser, explores the ruthlessness of the asylum processing
procedures by lending his microphone to the civil servants who make the
decisions, particularly those involved in expulsion.
“The result is a shocking testimony to cold decision-making,” stated the
jury. “Border guards describe themselves as hunters with each catch
improving their career prospects. Officials blindly apply rules without
questioning the consequences of their decisions.”
“I am just doing my job”, was the response when faced with the news that one
of his expelled asylum seekers was currently languishing in a Turkish jail.
Kieser was doing more than his job, applying a conscience and
professionalism which the Jury see as a tribute to journalism’s contribution
to the promotion of tolerance.
The Presentation Ceremony will take place on Friday 19th March at the
Council of Europe, Strasbourg. It will be followed be the European Media
Forum, an annual debate amongst European media experts on the promotion of
tolerance. This year focuses on relations between the media and the police
in reporting crimes involving ethnic minorities and the migrant community.
Members of the jury
Annette Bosscher, Leo Cendrowicz, Frauke Höbermann, Ruba Husari, Eva Nowak,
and Luc Demaret (Chairman)
The IFJ Prize is supported by the Council of Europe, the European Commission
and the City of Strasbourg. It is organised by the International Media
Working Group Against Racism and Xenophobia, IMRAX.