Washington Post’s Bob Woodward Praises International Journalists for Bravery in Pursuit of the Truth

Nov 132012

Stating that “democracies die in darkness,” investigative reporter Bob Woodward praised two journalists named as this year’s Knight International Journalism Award winners for their brave work in bringing truth to light.

Woodward, an associate editor at The Washington Post, was the keynote speaker at the International Center for Journalists’ awards ceremony in Washington where more than 500 media leaders and luminaries honored the work of Kenyan radio correspondent Kassim Mohamed and Afghan television journalist Sami Mahdi.

He said the journalists’ courage was in the tradition of intrepid Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, who prodded Woodward and colleague Carl Bernstein to get to the truth behind the 1973 Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Under extreme pressure from the Nixon administration, Woodward said he told Graham that the now legendary reporting team might never get to the bottom of the Watergate story. “Never,” Graham said. “Don’t tell me never.” Those words, Woodward said, are a call to all journalists to pursue the truth despite the odds.

Woodward said secret government was the greatest worry everywhere because “democracies die in darkness,” but he said international journalists such as Mohamed and Mahdi fight against secrecy and corruption “with far fewer tools and greater risk to themselves.”

Comparing journalism in the United States to the journalism practiced in countries with fewer freedoms, he said, “It is not a dangerous profession in this country. The barriers and hostilities that the award winners confront are on a scale that we American journalists never really have to deal with. Clearly, we have real constitutional protections. But in a more important way, we work for institutions that protect us.”

He added, “It is humbling to those of us in this business in this country because we have it easy compared to them.”