Secretary of State John Kerry praised three award-winning journalists for “truth-telling at its best,” saying he had witnessed firsthand how dangerous truth-telling can be in many places around the world.
“From the journalists in Vietnam who long ago rode on our patrol boat down the Mekong to the reporters who now sit on the State Department’s plane as we tackle crises around the world, I’ve borne witness to the sacrifices you make and the risks you take to get the full story and to get it right. What you do is far more than a career; it’s a calling,” he said in a special videotaped address during ICFJ’s Awards Dinner.
Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, was honoring three distinguished journalists:
- Lesley Stahl, veteran CBS correspondent for “60 Minutes”
- Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, an investigative reporter and editor of the Sunday Punch in Lagos, Nigeria, and
- Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter in Mexico
He saluted Stahl for her “determination to ask hard questions and demand real answers.... From the time she arrived on the scene of a minor burglary at the Watergate Hotel in 1972, Lesley has been breaking stories and tearing down barriers for a new generation of reporters.”
He said Ogunseye and Xanic, both groundbreaking women journalists, are heirs to Stahl’s legacy. “This is the kind of reporting that does more than provide information; it serves justice and lays the foundation for critically needed social and political reform.”
He said their reports were “prime examples of investigative balance and truth-telling at its best.”
Kerry also congratulated ICFJ for three decades of leadership in supporting freedom of expression and a more vibrant press across the world.
“A free and open press is absolutely vital to the well-being of any society. And that is why the courageous work of the ICFJ is so important. You provide an indispensable platform of support for journalists across the globe who are telling stories the world needs to hear – about human trafficking, organized crime, terrorist operations, human rights atrocities, violence against women, and the pandemic of corruption that is keeping so many countries from fulfilling their potential.”
Ogunseye and Xanic were presented Knight International Journalism Awards, while Stahl was given ICFJ’s Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism for decades of high-caliber work.