THE FREE MEDIA AWARDS 2019
Press release – Oslo 15 August 2019
The Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation’s press prizes go to the regional online newspaper 7×7 in Northwest Russia for their unique teamwork and cooperation between journalists, bloggers and activists, The Insider, for their fact checking and critical investigative journalism in Russia, made in collaboration with other international media outlets, CivilNet from Armenia for the important role they played during the civil and political revolution, the Azerbaijan investigative journalist Hafiz Babali for his efforts to show both Azerbaijanis and the international community alike the tremendous scope of the corruption that exists among the political and financial elite in the country, and the magazine Novoye Vremya for their investigative stories on corruption and the abuse of power among politicians and other state government employees in Ukraine.
“The situation for press freedom in the region is so critical, and the candidates for the Free Media Awards so many and worthy, that the Fritt Ord Foundation and the Zeit Foundation have decided from this year on to increase the number of awards from three to five”, says Knut Olav Åmås, executive director at the Fritt Ord Foundation.
“The five recipients of our 2019 Free Media Awards are all brave journalists working extensively with important journalism revealing corruption, organized crime, human rights violations, and abuse of power in critical ways that serve the public”, says Knut Olav Åmås.
The website 7×7 is a regional online newspaper and blog platform from Northwest Russia. The platform is an independent solidarity and media grassroots project that publishes news, investigative journalism projects, professional reports, commentaries and blog posts. 7×7 is a unique example of teamwork and cooperation between journalists, bloggers and activists. The online newspaper aspires to facilitate a more horizontal balance of power in Russia, with a higher degree of influence for ordinary citizens, where non-hierarchical principles can contribute to greater transparency and freedom of expression – in a region featuring few independent media organisations. Important topics that they cover include pollution and environmental problems like the dumping of hazardous waste, and protests against this. Corruption and the use of torture in the prison system are other examples. Some of the cases covered have gained national traction. Journalists and bloggers alike who publish on the media platform 7×7 regularly receive threats and are often prosecuted. The platform has been subject to high fines and is constantly under investigation.
Nominated by: The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven, Head of Russia and Central Asia, Friedrich Naumann, Stiftung für die Freiheit, Natalia Baranova, editor-in-chief of the education project “Teplitsa of social technology”, Jens Beiküfner, head of the press department at the German Embassy in Moscow, and jury members Alice Bota and Guri Norstrøm
The Insider, based in Moscow, is an independent media platform that attaches great importance to fact checking and critical investigative journalism. They are increasingly investigating state propaganda and disinformation campaigns. The Insider has written about organised crime, conducted investigations into the Malaysian MH17 passenger aircraft shot down over Ukraine, and investigated Russian intelligence secrets of national and international interest. Last year, in collaboration with British Bellingcat and BBC Newsnight, they disclosed the identity of the two Russian agents behind the poisoning of the former spy Sergej Skripal in Salisbury, England. Roman Dobrokhotov, editor-in-chief and political activist, founded The Insider.
Nominated by: Anna Saraste, freelance journalist, and Dekoder.org (the German platform on Russia) represented by Tamina Kutscher, editor-in-chief
The Armenian media platform CivilNet played an important role during the mass protests last year by informing people inside and outside Armenia about the civil and political revolution. CivilNet covered the mass protests through live broadcasts around the clock, and they are one of the media outlets that has followed the subsequent political developments closely. CivilNet addresses topics that are usually ignored by mainstream media, e.g. climate and environment, women’s, minorities’ and disabled people’s rights, artistic freedom and other matters that are relevant for the younger generation. They also report from their neighbouring country Turkey, even though the national border between the two countries is closed and no diplomatic relations exist. CivilNet publishes its news in both Armenian and English, and it has gradually become a reliable and important channel of information for the Armenian society, as well as the diaspora in the USA and European countries. That has contributed to greater international involvement in and for Armenian politics and the Armenian way of life.
Nominated by Deputy Ambassador Klaus Heidelberg of the German Embassy in Armenia, and jury member Silvia Stöber
The investigative journalist Hafiz Babali is behind the coverage of many high-profile cases about crime for profit and corruption in Azerbaijan. His journalism has shown both Azerbaijanis and the international community alike the tremendous scope of the corruption that exists among the political and financial elite in the country. Information discovered through Babali’s investigations was used in international reports on money laundering in Azerbaijan. He writes for free and independent media organisations like the news agency Turan and Radio Liberty, Meydan TV, the new media channel ASTNA and the anti-corruption portal Open Azerbaijan. Babali receives constant threats to himself and his family as a result of his journalistic efforts.
Nominated by the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety represented by Emin Huseynov, executive director
The independent weekly magazine Novoye Vremya, based in Kyiv, prints critical, investigative stories on corruption and the abuse of power among politicians and other state government employees in Ukraine. The weekly magazine is strongly opinionated and many of Ukraine’s leading intellectual voices, as well as prominent voices from abroad, contribute. The magazine is internationally oriented. In 2018 and 2019, the magazine was investigated and subpoenaed, with the authorities demanding access to the magazine’s sources and the case documents used in two cases involving allegations of corruption against state civil servants. The magazine firmly defends the principles that characterise freedom of expression and courage in the independent press. The print edition of the weekly magazine is published on Russian, while the website publishes in Ukrainian and Russian.
Website: https://nv.ua/, https:// nv.ua/ukr
Nominated by jury members Juri Durkot and Martin Paulsen
Since 2016, Free Media Awards have been awarded each year to independent journalists or courageous media organisations from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia or Armenia. The 2019 awards will be bestowed at the Free Media Awards Conference, under the auspices of the Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT-Stiftung, on 18 – 19 November 2019 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The press prizes amount is 15.000, – € for each of the prize laureates.
The jury for the Free Media Awards consists of six individuals: Ane Tusvik Bonde, senior adviser at the Human Rights House Foundation in Oslo, Alice Bota, Moscow correspondent for Die ZEIT, Juri Durkot, journalist and translator from Lviv, Ukraine, Guri Norstrøm, foreign correspondent for NRK, Martin Paulsen, Eastern Europe expert with a PhD in Russian language from the University of Bergen, and Silvia Stöber, freelance journalist who covers Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Southeast Asia for the German public broadcaster ARD and other media.
Ane Tusvik Bonde, jury member, and senior advisor at the Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo, tel. +47 997 43 907, email: email@example.com
Bente Roalsvig, project manager and deputy director at the Fritt Ord Foundation, tel. +47 916 13 340, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hanne Vorland, senior advisor at the Fritt Ord Foundation, tel. + 47 975 45 247, email: email@example.com