“The pen is mightier than the sword” said English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The Committee to Protect Journalists annual awards and benefit dinner honored courageous journalists from around the world.
CPJ’s 32nd annual International Press Freedom Awards (IFPA) dinner was on a crisp winter evening on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at The Glasshouse in Manhattan.
This year’s black-tie dinner was chaired by the vivacious Shari Redstone, who leads Paramount Global. The Fourth estate came out to support trailblazing awardees from Cuba, Iraqi Kurdistan, Ukraine, Russia, and Vietnam. After two years of virtual and hybrid events the best in journalism including Gayle King, Bill Whitaker, Jane Pauley, Jelani Cobb, Kati Marton and David Remnick showed up and mingled in elegant attire.
Speaking truth to power, all four honorees have withstood challenges, including harassment, aggression, and imprisonment to bring the public independent reporting amid rampant disinformation and war.
Three honorees live in exile, a frightening trend in which journalists are being forced to leave their home countries or risk imprisonment, torture or death.
Since inception in 1981 the nonprofit organization, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) champions press freedom, defends the rights of journalist and takes action when in pursuit of the truth are attacked, arrested or killed.
The opening in June 2022 of a new space, CPJ dedicated The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Press Freedom Center at the headquarters in New York. The new space is a global hub for defending press freedom advocacy with offices in Washington D.C, Brussels and a safety team based in Europe.
The cocktail reception began at 6:30 p.m. with lively conversation and important networking over the open bar with a backdrop of scenic night Westside views.
Everyone was welcomed to the seated dinner by the first woman of color to lead ABC News, the stunning Kim Godwin. After opening remarks by CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg and Paramount Global Chair Shari Redstone follwed by the four course dinner.
The International Press Freedom Awards were presented by journalist to journalist. CBS News corespondent Holly Williams to Editor in Chief of Ukrainska Pravda, Sevgil Musaieva who has received death threats and a ban from her coverage of the invasion of Ukraine. Univision Network Anchor Maria Elena Salinas presented the award to Cuban journalist and co-founder of El Estornudo, Abraham Jiménez Enoa currently in Spain living in exile but able to attend the dinner.
CNN corespondent Omar Jimenz presented the award to founder of Luat Khoa and journalist Pham Doan Trang. Trang is serving a nine year prison sentence in Vietnam for “conducting anti-state propaganda”.
The benefit dinner starter was a salad of roasted carrots with smoked ricotta, English peas and local greens followed by the main course of halibut with Fennell, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, haricot vests and marble potatoes. The wines were a lovely Chardonnay from Le Vicomte and Grounded Cabernet Sauvignon to compliment the meal.A delicious whipped caramel coffee crunch chocolate cake was served for dessert.
Two special segments from from 108 Films, one honoring the 62 journalists killed so far in 2022 and another in solidarity with Iranian journalists arrested while covering women-led protests against the state.
The Tehran bureau chief of The Washington Post Jason Rezalan presented the award to the Kurdish freelance journalist Niyaz Abdullah.
The New Yorker columnist and author Masha Gessen presented the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, celebrating an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom, was awarded to Russian journalist and Meduza editor Galina Timchenko.
CPJ Chair Kathleen Carroll made closing remarks and announced CPJ’s 2022 Press Freedom Awards dinner had raised over 2 million dollars.
Kudos to Bloomberg Philantrophies, Paramount, Knight Foundation, Alphabet Google, Debevoise & Plimpton, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Advance, Norman Pearlstein & Jane Boon and Fox News Media for their generous support to ensure the free flow of news and commentary.
The evening ended with a lively post-dinner after-party of desserts, savories and an open bar hosted by Google. The 32nd International Press Freedom Awards was a success and CPJ will carry on the important and sustained commitment to global press freedom advocacy in extraordinary times.
All photos Getty Images