Michelle Lang Honoured with World Press Freedom Award

OTTAWA, May 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang has become the 12th recipient of the Canadian World Press Freedom Award, the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) announced today at its annual luncheon. Lang, and four soldiers accompanying her, was killed on the job in Afghanistan on December 30, 2009. It's the first time in its 12-year history the award has been given posthumously.

"Michelle Lang paid the ultimate price for her craft," CCWPF President David Gollob said. "As we reach the end of close to a decade of involvement in Afghanistan, questioning about the achievements obtained for so much sacrifice has never been so intense. In this, our own journalists are playing a critical role, by bringing us the stories that allow us to have informed opinions. Michelle's legacy is not just her contribution to this debate: her courage and sacrifice are an inspiration to all."

Since 1992, when UNESCO designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, organizations around the globe have held events to honour media workers who have risked life or liberty to bring their stories to the public.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom Award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate of honour from the CCWPF and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The 10th annual International Editorial Cartoon Competition, also hosted by the CCWPF, invited cartoons on the theme: "The 'right' not to be offended is not a right: How can we encourage vigorous debate while being respectful of religious sensibilities?" This was inspired by a recent attempt on the life of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and by the fact that blasphemy is now a criminal offence in Ireland. The jury noted that many of the cartoons deal, from contrasting points of view, with the tension between religious freedom and press freedom.

The first prize of $1,500 was awarded to Plantu, cartoonist for Le Monde. His entry, originally published in the Parisian newspaper, depicts a cartoonist drawing under the watchful eye of an Imam perched on a minaret, which has been transformed into the artist's pencil.

The second prize of $750 went to Riber Hansson of Sweden and the third prize of $500 went to Signe Wilkinson of the United States.

Veteran broadcaster Don Newman, who has hosted the awards luncheon since its inception, noted in his comments that this year's event takes place against a backdrop of increasing violence against journalists. At least 101 journalists and media workers were killed in 2009, a significant increase from the 87 journalists killed in 2008.

The CCWPF is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer Board. Jim Orban, Publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, serves as Honorary Chair. The CCWPF acknowledges the generous cash and in-kind contributions from its many sponsors, which include the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Newspaper Association, the National Press Club Foundation, The Ottawa Citizen, Le Droit, the Hill Times and Embassy newspapers, and many more.

SOURCE Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Bob Carty, (613) 730-1007, rcarty@sympatico.ca; or Charles Morrow, (613) 241-4665, morrow2@sympatico.ca; or Gord McIntosh, gord@110percent.ca; See also: http://www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca which has links to many press freedom sites; info@ccwpf-cclpm.ca

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