As one of the most influential photojournalists of this era, James Nachtwey for more than 40 years has covered history unfolding in hotspots across the globe. Nachtwey, who is the winner of the ICFJ Excellence in Visual Journalism Award, delivered the following remarks on Nov. 2 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, at the ICFJ Tribute to Journalists 2023.
Thank you all for the support you have given to the International Center for Journalists through the year, and thanks for being here this evening.
Despite the maxim that one is entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts, we are living in a time when so-called alternative facts have become a serious challenge to the truth, and the mission of ICFJ is more important than ever.
We’re all aware of how elusive the truth can be, and legitimate journalists and news organizations pursue the facts through ever-evolving layers of complexity in order to approach the truth.
The work is difficult, painstaking, relentless, and often dangerous. In order to be effective, it must be done with integrity, and it must be perceived that way by the public.
Being accountable to a professional code of ethics is what distinguishes legitimate journalism from the arbitrary offerings on social media, where anyone is free to say whatever they want, regardless of the facts and regardless of the consequences.
ICFJ not only teaches emerging journalists their craft; it also instills in them the value of integrity. I applaud your work, and I thank you for it.
And I thank you for acknowledging my work. But I am only one among many. It’s the critical mass of all of our work together that can shed some light into a world that appears to be ever-darkening, as we are now witnessing in the Middle East and Ukraine, in the crises of immigration, homelessness and climate change, to cite just a few examples; to use the weight of the truth to counteract the proliferation of misinformation that has become increasingly influential; to make an appeal to reason and decency and remind us of our common humanity in the face of growing polarization, both at home and abroad. That's what is truly being recognized here this evening. God speed.