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Patricia Campos Mello (Brazilian Folha De S. Paulo Reporter) & Lucia Pineda Ubau(Nicaraguan-Costa-Rican) and Miguel Mora ( 100% News Director from Nicaragua) Honored with the 2019 International Freedom Awards By The Committee To Protect Journalist Organization in New York..!
New York, November 22, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists and press freedom supporters from around the world celebrated journalists from Brazil, India, Nicaragua, and Tanzania last night(Thursday, November 21) at the 29th annual International Press Freedom Awards in New York.
All the honorees work in developing democracies that have experienced a deterioration in their respective press freedom environments, and they have had to fight in the face of censorship and threats to bring stories and information to their communities. Earlier this week, the awardees met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pense to raise concerns about threats to press freedom around the globe, including rhetoric about “fake news” from leaders in their countries.
“This is the 29th CPJ gala. Some of you were here at the first one. You knew then that a free press is the underpinning of democracy, and that it cannot be taken for granted,” said veteran U.S. journalist and IPFA host Shep Smith. “If the events of the past decade have shown us anything it is that independent journalism is more necessary than ever.”
A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, presented the award to Lucia Pineda Ubau, news director of 100% Noticias, and Miguel Mora, the outlet’s founder and director, who were freed on June 11 after six months behind bars in Nicaragua.
Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown--who earlier this year broke stories on Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking--presented the award to freelance investigative journalist Neha Dixit, who has also reported on sex trafficking scandals in India. Maxence Melo Mubyazi, a champion of online freedom of expression in Tanzania, was presented with his award by veteran journalist and former CPJ board chair Sandra Mims Rowe. Folha de S. Paulo reporter Patricia Campos Mello received her award from Colombian journalist and CPJ board memberMaria Teresa Ronderos, who is founding a Latin American cross-border investigative reporting center.
“Today, the U.S. media is under pressure from another leader who disparages and undermines journalists at every turn. As our honorees have affirmed, that rhetoric is empowering autocratic leaders around the world who are cracking down with greater ferocity,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “And so the question arises, how should journalists respond to this pressure? If the past is any indication, they should go out and report the news as they see fit. They—you—should report the news with fairness, accuracy, integrity, and rigor.”
At an emotional point early in the evening, the room gave a standing ovation to Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who attended the event. The two were released earlier this year after spending more than 500 days behind bars in Myanmar for their reporting.
The event, held at the Grand Hyatt New York, raised nearly $2.7 million, with support from the evening’s dinner chairs, the Emerson Collective’s Laurene Powell Jobs and Peter Lattman. The evening also included an appeal matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Kicking off the appeal, host Smith announced that he would personally donate $500,000 to CPJ.
During the night, CPJ also collected messages of support for imprisoned journalist and 2012 awardee Azimjon Askarov of Kyrgyzstan, which will be delivered to him in prison.
About Patricia Campos Mello:
Patrícia Campos Mello is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the daily Folha de S. Paulo, one of Brazil's biggest news outlets, and an experienced international correspondent. She has reported on human rights and public health stories in Brazil, including on babies being born with microcephaly as a result of the Zika virus in 2016. She has also reported on the war in Afghanistan, the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, the national elections in India, and migration and the refugee crisis in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, Lebanon, and Kenya.
From 2006 to 2010, she was the Washington correspondent for the Estado de S. Paulo (Estadão) newspaper. Prior to that, she worked at business and finance publications including Valor Econômico and Gazeta Mercantil.
In late 2018, during the Brazilian presidential election campaign, Campos Mello was attacked online in response to her coverage of allegations about efforts by a group of businessmen supporting then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro to sponsor bulk messaging on WhatsApp related to the campaign. After the stories were published, she was threatened on social media and over the phone. Callers made direct threats against her and her family, and social media users shared doctored photos and fake news stories about her. In addition, details of events in which she planned to participate were shared among hundreds of WhatsApp groups, with calls for Bolsonaro supporters to attend the events and confront her in person. Campos Mello was forced to cancel all public appearances for more than a month, and her newspaper hired a bodyguard for her. A WhatsApp number for the newspaper Folha was flooded with hundreds of thousands of messages related to her reporting.
The attack on Campos Mello was one of the most visible cases of doxxing in a year and election cycle in which dozens of journalists were harassed and criticized for their reporting. "I am more cautious in my approach to people in the new government because I worry they are going to use it against me," Campos Mello told CPJ in December.
Campos Mello received the King of Spain Journalism Prize and the Petrobras Prize in 2018 and the Red Cross International Committee Prize for humanitarian journalism in 2017.