Belarus’ Pioneering Editor and Ugandan Human Rights Reporter Named 2008 Knight International Journalism Award Winners

Jun 32008

They will be honored with John F. Burns of The New York Times at the International Center for Journalists Awards Dinner on Nov. 12 in Washington, DC

Göteborg, Sweden--The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced that Belarus editor and free-press champion Aliaksei Karol and Ugandan human rights reporter Frank Nyakairu are the winners of the 2008 Knight International Journalism Award. They will be honored along with Founders Award recipient John F. Burns of The New York Times at the annual ICFJ Awards Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, on November 12.

Karol, editor-in-chief of the weekly publication Novy Chas, is one of the few remaining independent voices in Belarus. Over the past 15 years, he has provided fellow citizens with independent news despite physical attacks and intense government pressure. The country’s Supreme Court shut down his first newspaper, Zgoda, in 2006. Undeterred, in 2007 Karol began a new weekly, Novy Chas, which has faced legal challenges.

Uganda’s Nyakairu stands out for his in-depth coverage of human rights abuses in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Sudan. A multimedia reporter who spent more than seven years at The Monitor and works for Reuters, he has produced hard-hitting stories on everything from abuses in Uganda’s detention centers to war crimes by rebel leaders in his country. Upset over a report in 2002, the government raided and shut down The Monitor for several days. Nyakairu was detained and charged with threatening national security. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

“Our winners this year represent the last hope for a free press in Belarus—and the best hope for tackling human rights abuses through top-notch reporting in Uganda,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan, who announced the winners at the 61st World Newspaper Congress, 15th World Editors Forum in Göteborg. “These journalists stand up and speak out, despite the pressures, and set the finest standards for the profession.”

Winners are nominated by Knight International Journalism Fellows, past and present, and other seasoned international journalists. The jury included two former Knight Fellows—Doug Mitchell, NPR Project Manager, Next Generation Radio, and Reuters Washington editor Alan Elsner. CBS Washington correspondent Wyatt Andrews, New York Times Washington News Editor Paula Dwyer, National Geographic Managing Editor Victoria Pope, New Statesman U.S. Editor Andrew Stephen, and ICFJ President Barnathan also served on the jury.

Karol and Nyakairu will receive their award at ICFJ’s annual dinner, which features CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as the keynote speaker and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos as master of ceremonies. Some 500 top media leaders attend the event.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Knight International Journalism Awards, given by the Knight International Journalism Fellowships program. The Fellowships are designed to create lasting, tangible improvements in the way journalism is practiced around the world. The program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The International Center for Journalists, a non-profit, professional organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition. The Knight International Journalism Fellowships is ICFJ’s flagship program.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted nearly $400 million to advance journalism quality and the freedom of expression. Knight Foundation supports ideas and projects that create transformational change.