Journalism in the modern age has become closer linked to the word “content” than courage, but on Wednesday, media types gathered at Cipriani in Midtown New York to honor female journalists who put themselves in danger for their profession.
Norah O’Donnell and Cynthia McFadden hosted The International Women’s Media Foundation awards, which welcomed a slew of well-known media types such as Time Inc.’s executive vice president and chief content officer Norman Pearlstine; NBC News president Deborah Turness; coanchor of CBS’ “This Morning” Gayle King; Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive, and InStyle editorial director Ariel Foxman.
Guests picked at chilled vegetable soup, duck and petit fours, while watching videos that encapsulated the work of reporters Mwape Kumwenda from Zambia, Anna Nemtsova (Russia), Lourdes Ramirez (Honduras) and longtime Associated Press correspondent Linda Deutsch.
The award winners were individually introduced and gave speeches about the importance of journalism — even in the face of grave danger.
“I became a reporter 15 years ago because I care about human rights stories,” Nemtsova said, explaining that she, and many of her colleagues paid their own way to cover the second Chechen War. “This is how many people get into journalism by taking their first steps without an assignment. I bought my own ticket to the war.”
Later, Kumwenda, who was introduced by King, spoke of her devotion to journalism, calling it a “duty.”
“Being courageous in journalism in my country Zambia is not a challenge. The law is not on our side,” she said. “Risks must be taken and the stories must be told.”
Deutsch closed out the afternoon, following a heartfelt introduction from Pearlstine, who spoke about the AP reporter’s advancement of women in the media.
Deutsch, who covered some of the biggest trials over the last 50 years for the AP, was given a lifetime achievement award for her work covering the Charles Mansion and OJ Simpson trials and the assassination of Robert Kennedy Jr.
She also spoke of fighting for First Amendment Rights for journalists while at the AP, and called journalism a “noble profession that shines light on the darkest places.”
Deutsch acknowledged the difficulties of the present day media industry, noting:
“I think if you want to be a journalist today, you have to have a passion for it — a passion that cannot be quenched by any other occupation,” she said. “You have to prove that you are so good that the news business cannot live without you.”