Tongam Rina from India, Jörg Armbruster and Martin Durm from Germany as well as Brigitte Alfter and Ides Debruyne from Denmark and Belgium are laureates of the “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” 2013.
LEIPZIG. The “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” 2013 goes to the Indian journalist Tongam Rina, to the initiators of the “European Fund for Investigative Journalism” Brigitte Alfter und Ides Debruyne and to German journalists Jörg Armbruster, correspondent of the German broadcast station ARD for the Near and Middle East until 2012, and Martin Durm, radio reporter of the German broadcast station SWR. With the prize, the foundation honours five individuals, who bravely und courageously show commitment to the freedom of press. The prize, which is endowed with 30,000 Euros, will personally be awarded to the laureates on 8 October, 2013 in Leipzig.
“This year, the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig honours the journalists Tongam Rina, Jörg Armbruster and Martin Durm. All three of them are committed to an independent journalism even under a very strong personal commitment – Rina in her home country India, Armbruster and Durm as German correspondents in Syria. The everyday life of this year’s laureates reflects the whole spectrum of mechanisms threatening the freedom and future of the media. At the same time, the jury wants to honour two people, who are committed to the institutional support of investigative journalism for years – Brigitte Alfter and Ides Debruyne. They help to give investigative journalism a future, which is crucial to an open and pluralistic society, even in time of a media crisis”, said Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, explaining the motives of the jury for this year’s choice.
In Indian public, among international observers and local colleagues, Tongam Rina (born in 1979) has an excellent reputation, which is based on her journalistic work and her personal integrity. Although the freedom of press in India is guaranteed by the constitution, the example of Tongam Rina shows the acute endangering of critical journalists in the country. As reporter of the Arunachal Times in the federal state of Arunachal Pradesh, she reports about corruption within local authorities in connection with the distribution of food, the questionable construction of dams, environmental scandals, military operations of extremist organisation NSCN and the situation of Indian women.
On 15 July 2012, Tongam Rina was gunned down and seriously injured in front of the editorial office of the newspaper. It is believed that the attempted murder is connected to Rina’s journalistic work. So far three people have been arrested, while the alleged mastermind is on the run. Previously there had been violent attacks and threats against employees of the newspaper.
Currently, Tongam Rina is a guest of the “Hamburger Stiftung für politisch Verfolgte” (“Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People”). She wants to investigate further on from Germany. This steadfastness – as well as her former work as president of the journalists’ union in Arunachal Pradesh – makes her a model for young journalists in India.
Jörg Armbruster (born in 1947), correspondent of ARD television, and Martin Durm (born in 1959), radio reporter of SWR radio, have taken the risk to report independently and authentic from the suffering of the people in the civil war-torn country of Syria, which is supposedly one of the most dangerous countries for journalists beside Somalia. The work of both journalists cannot be assessed high enough, because the majority of pictures from Syria are dubious and second hand, which can also be manipulated.
In March 2013, during a joint research trip for a documentary, both journalists were ambushed in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. Armbruster was seriously injured. “Reporting or not when risking your life? This dilemma of reporting from crisis zones is indissoluble,” stated the NDR television station in a post of “Zapp” TV-magazine in July 2012. On the one hand, the society needs reliable information and pictures from the Syrian civil war. On the other hand, reporters should protect themselves as much as possible.
From 1999 to 2005 and again from 2010 on, Jörg Armbruster was correspondent of the German television ARD and head of studio in Cairo. From 2012 on his focus laid on the reporting from Egypt and Syria. After his injury, he is on the mend. From 1991, Martin Durm reported from the ARD studio in Cairo. Between 1996 and 2001 he was a radio reporter of the ARD. Between 2006 and 2011 he worked as a correspondent at the ARD studio in Strasbourg. For their reporting, Jörg Armbruster and Martin Durm receive the prize as a team.
Journalists Brigitte Alfter (Denmark, born in 1966) and Ides Debruyne (Belgium, born in 1966) are initiators of the “Journalismfund.eu”. The organisation, which was founded in 2008, promotes European, collaborative research journalism through scholarships and supports the “European Data Harvest Conference” for data and research journalism. Alfter and Debruyne recognized the need for thorough research on European issues without being impeded by national borders. The scholarships of the organisation allow journalists to work together in multinational research teams. Examples of transnational issues are trafficking, abuse of EU funds or illegal arms trafficking.
A prime example of the role of “Journalismfund.eu” is the Latvian-Irish report on the “Latvian brides”, where journalists revealed forced marriages between Latvian women and Asian men. Young, often poor Latvian women were lured to Ireland with job offers. There, they were forced to marry Asian men. They are often detained under degrading conditions until the “husbands” get their residence permit. The publication of the scandal led to legislative initiatives in both countries.
Brigitte Alfter was Brussels correspondent for the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information and founding member of the Danish “Scoop” project for the promotion of investigative journalism, especially in Eastern Europe. Ides Debruyne is the Managing Director of “Journalismfund.eu” and teaches journalism at the University of Ghent.
Since 2001, the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig awards its “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” to journalists, publishers and institutions who show a strong personal commitment to the freedom and future of the media. The prize is also intended to keep alive the memory of the Peaceful Revolution of 9 October, 1989 in Leipzig, when protesters demanded “a free press for a free country.”Diese Seite ausdrucken
Whoever wants to support and sponsor the development of a free media has to consider more than the mere economic and employment-oriented aspects. A media centre becomes especially important and attractive when it represents a climate where the media’s great responsibility towards society is recognized as a duty as well as a challenge.
The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig public savings bank wants to contribute to this climate. One of its key commitments is the fostering of training and further education possibilities for young people in the media field. This involves scholarships (e.g. through the Leipzig Media Award), targeted project support, and the organization of civic education events, such as for the commemoration of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in Leipzig.
The Foundation projects are financed by the Foundation itself as well as third party contributions and donations.
Every year, the Foundation awards its “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media”. In addition, the Foundation awards the “Axel Eggebrecht Prize”, the “Günter Eich Prize” and the “Golden Dove” (former “Talent Dove”).Diese Seite ausdrucken
The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig is particularly committed to education and training in the media sector. Therefore, the Foundation cooperates closely with local universities and other educational institutions and founded institutes, launched initiatives and projects and created the necessary infrastructure for media-related activities. The respective core institutions are:
Discover these areas by visiting the related web pages and learn more about the funding spectrum of the Media Foundation.Diese Seite ausdrucken
Press release 23 June, 2016: Sparkasse Media Foundation awards 2016 “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” to Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül
Leipzig, 23 June, 2016. Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül will be awarded the 2016 Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, sponsored by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation. “This year’s list of nominees included many journalists and media organisations that make great and honest efforts to defend freedom of speech in their home countries or even in a cross-border context,” explains Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation. “With the joint award for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül we honour two journalists who represent many of their colleagues in Turkey and elsewhere: They pursue their journalistic profession in an independent and unbiased manner – despite politically motivated persecution, threats of imprisonment or dangers to life and limb. The fact that four Turkish journalists (Ahmed Altan, Nedim Şener, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül) have been awarded our prize in recent years, is a sign of the state of press freedom in Turkey,” Seeger continues. The award is worth 30,000 euros and will be bestowed in two equal halves to both journalists. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül intend to accept the prize and will receive it at the award ceremony on 7 October 2016 in Leipzig (unless they are prevented from taking part in the ceremony).
Justifying the fact that this year’s laureates will also be from Turkey following the bestowals of recent years, Seeger says: “The jury’s decision shows that the threat to press freedom in Turkey is regarded as an intrinsic feature of the political system, which suppresses the pluralistic formation of opinion, in turn endangering the work and lives of journalists. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, two outstanding and renowned journalists, have been living with these threats for years, most recently as chief editor and Ankara correspondent of Cumhuriyet newspaper respectively.” The jury is deeply worried by this development in a country which is such an important partner for Europe.
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) confirms the jury’s view in general and also its specific decision regarding Dündar and Gül. At the beginning of the trial in Istanbul, Michelle Trimborn was present as a representative of the Centre to meet the journalists personally and to support the fight for their rights. The ECPMF actively supports them and other threatened journalists in Turkey. Dündar and Gül became targets of the state due to a report they had published together on alleged Turkish arms supplies to extremists in Syria. The reaction to their work was not a public investigation of the press reports but instead the legal prosecution of the journalists and charges of espionage and aiding terrorists, backed by President Erdogan as joint plaintiff. Their – as yet not legally valid – sentence of May 2016 raises reasonable doubt as to the Turkish judicial authorities’ willingness to defend the freedom of the press. The award for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül is therefore also a sign of solidarity with them, their families and all the journalists who are suffering from state repressions in Turkey today.
About the laureates
Can Dündar, born in Ankara (Turkey) in 1961, studied journalism at the Faculty of Political Science of Ankara University (until 1982) and at the London School of Journalism (until 1986), received his master’s degree in 1988 and his PhD in Political Science from the Technical University of the Near East in Ankara in 1996. After that he worked for several newspapers and TV stations, including the public TRT from 1988 as well as for private channels such as CNN Türk and NTV. He worked as a columnist for the newspaper Milliyet for many years, where he was fired with immediate effect in 2013, probably due to critical columns on the protests in connection with Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Then he worked for Cumhurriyet and became editor-in-chief of the newspaper in early 2015. In May 2014 he published material on alleged entanglements of the Turkish state in the Syrian civil war together with the head of the newspaper’s Ankara office, Erdem Gül.
Erdem Gül, born in the Turkish city of Giresun in 1967, studied journalism at the Gazi University in Ankara. In 1992 he began his professional career at the Turkish news agency Anka. In 2010 he became Cumhurriyet’s parliamentary correspondent, and since 2013 he was head of the newspaper’s Ankara office. In the Cumhurriyet trial concerning the reporting of a secret Turkish military transport operation to Syria, Erdem Gül was the main defendant. He was sentenced to five years in prison. This sentence is not yet legally valid either.
Both journalists were arrested in November 2015. However, the Constitutional Court of Turkey declared the provisional custody as unlawful in February 2016. The trial began on 25 March, 2016, with the accusation of knowingly and intentionally aiding an armed terror organisation and espionage of state secrets. While Dündar was awaiting sentencing on 6 May, 2016, he was attacked and shot. Dündar was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison for publishing state secrets, while Gül was sentenced to five years. Neither sentence is yet legally valid.
About the award
Each year since 2001, the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation has awarded the “Prize for the Freedom and the Future of the Media” in order to honour journalists, publishers, and institutions that have demonstrated great personal commitment to ensuring the freedom and the future of the media. The award is also intended to commemorate the Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig on 9 October 1989, during which protesters demanded “free press for a free country”.
The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig is committed to the memory of the Peaceful Revolution that took place in East Germany in 1989. Freedom of speech and unrestricted gathering of information through a free and independent press were key demands of the civil rights activists and demonstrators during the Leipzig Monday demonstrations at that time.
The exhibition “Sites of the Peaceful Revolution” realised by “Bürgerkomitee Leipzig e. V.” (“Citizen Committee Leipzig association”) takes you on a tour through Leipzig to 20 original locations, marked by pillars, where important events happened that helped to bring down the SED dictatorship regime in the year of the Democratic Change (1989/90) (more information can be found here). Additionally, the app “Leipzig ’89” offers a GPS-based tour of the 20 pillars with an audio guide in six languages. In addition to the individual pillars, more than 300 photos, documents and videos are available through this app (the app can be found here).
Through the annual awarding of the “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media”, the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig supports the freedom of press and with it the memento of the events of 1989.
The defense of the freedom of press is more important than ever. Even in free societies it is endangered: the patterns of suppression of information are becoming more subtle.
By awarding further prizes – such as the “Golden Dove” for the best documentary of a talented newcomer at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (formerly known as “Talent Dove”), the “Günther Eich Prize” and the “Axel Eggebrecht Prize”, the Foundation promotes culturally and qualitatively sophisticated work in text, sound and film.
All awards of the Media Foundation are summarised under the generic term “Leipzig Media Award”.Diese Seite ausdrucken
It was at the Leipzig Media Congress, held by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation in October of 2010 on the 10th anniversary of the creation of its Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, that Hans-Ulrich Jörges, Co-Editor of STERN magazine and Editor in Chief for Special Affairs of Gruner + Jahr, introduced the idea of creating a European Centre for the Freedom of the Press to the public for the first time. In 2009, Jörges had already initiated the European Charter on Freedom of the Press, signed by 48 editors in chief and other influential journalists from 19 countries. The next step, creating a Centre for Freedom of the Press, was a means of putting this charter into practice.
Leipzig was the heart of the Peaceful Revolution in Eastern Germany where, in the fall of 1989, tens of thousands of GDR citizens protested state power and made many demands, among them the demand for freedom of the media. Now Leipzig seems to be the perfect place to continue, with its Media Foundation that has already promoted freedom of the press for years. The Media Foundation builds on the spirit of that autumn in 1989, and has funded the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media since 2001.
Immediately after the 2010 Media Congress, we began working on a concept to serve as the basis for a search for new project supporters. Our tasks included identifying the legal entity that would guarantee the centre the maximum degree of independence and manoeuvrability. The board was eventually able to find a partner with expertise in EU law who was prepared to work with the project pro bono until its official foundation. This partner was the law firm CMS Hasche Sigle. They found the European Cooperative Society (SCE) model to be the most suitable legal form for the project, and set about creating draft statutes based on the Centre’s intended goals.
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF for short) seeks to provide those who defend the freedom of the press and the media in Europe with a voice that will be heard. The Centre’s core tasks are to bring European media freedom initiatives and actors together under one roof and to coordinate their activities. Thanks both to its diverse member base from all across Europe and its team in Leipzig, the ECPMF is able to document instances in which the freedom of the press has been violated and journalists persecuted, and to inform both the public and those with the power to make political decisions of relevant ongoing conflict and imminent danger in Europe.
One important step was winning the support of EU institutions in order to establish the project as a European initiative. Hans-Ulrich Jörges; Christoph Keese, Senior Vice President for Investor Relations and Public Affairs at Axel Springer SE; and Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation found an extraordinary advocate in Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. In discussions with other members of the Parliament, including Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff and Elmar Brok, Head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, we were able to form an alliance of supporters spanning all political parties. Finally, in its consultations, the Parliament approved a budget of one million euros to found the Centre.
On the condition that the project would receive EU funding, the Free State of Saxony and the City of Leipzig also declared their willingness to provide financial support. With the additional financial commitment of the Sparkasse Media Foundation, all of the necessary steps could be taken. Ultimately, we were able to create a detailed project plan that would allow us to submit an application to the European Commission and to seek the support of European journalistic organizations, institutions, and associations that promote issues concerning the freedom of the press. To do so, further expert input was needed.
We searched for a suitable project manager and found Dr Lutz Mükke. He was already familiar with the foundation, having been its first Ph.D. scholarship fellow. Dr Mükke began a rewarding search for project partners across Europe. At the same time, our attention was focused on developing a detailed draft concept. In addition to the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig, and the Media Foundation, we also gained the support of the Federal Foreign Ministry. In October 2013 we were able to submit the application to the European Commission on time.
Sadly, to the great disappointment of everyone involved, including the members of the European Parliament themselves, the European Commission did not select the 2013 application. Instead of funding a single Centre, they decided to support several projects and organizations. Nevertheless, following the Board’s recommendation and explicitly encouraged by both the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the other supporting members of the Parliament, the Media Foundation Council decided to stick to the plan and submit a new application in 2014. There was a new call for project participants and we restructured the concept before submitting it in a new application to the Commission.
In March 2015, we finally received the message from the European Commission in Brussels saying that the Media Foundation had won the bid and had been selected as leading partner, together with partners from three other European countries, to form the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. The other partners were Journalismfund.eu from Belgium; the Institute for European Media Law from Germany; Ossigeno per l’Informazione and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, both from Italy; and the South East Europe Media Organization, or SEEMO, from Austria.
The founding assembly of this European Cooperative Society (SCE) and the election of the members of the Board and Supervisory Board took place in Leipzig on 24 June, 2015.
The list of founding members includes representatives from more than 20 European journalistic organizations, media companies, and trade unions, as well as media experts and lawyers from all over Europe. The legal entity of the European Cooperative Society guarantees the Centre’s validity in all 28 EU member states and a maximum degree of independence from government institutions. At the same time, it enables the direct participation of affiliated organizations and initiatives in the Centre’s work. This cooperation can be seen in many places, including in the bodies of the ECPMF. Both the Board and the Supervisory Board count a number of representatives from important European freedom of the press initiatives among their members. The Centre’s operations are coordinated in Leipzig at the Media Campus Villa Ida, the seat of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation.
After having played such a decisive role in developing, planning, promoting, and financing this project, the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation has now decided to pursue its inclusion in the register of cooperative societies and attain full legal capacity to act, thus becoming a completely independent and autonomous institution. The foundation will always support the ECPMF to the best of its ability. The foundation would like to thank CMS Hasche Sigle law firm, BDO auditing company, certified public accountant and tax consultant Hartwig Künckeler, and German Cooperative Union in Frankfurt for having offered their expertise and generous support.
Managing Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation
Director Foundations of Sparkasse Leipzig
Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 – 5629 661
Fax: +49 341 – 5629 663
The “Media Campus” in the Leipzig district of Gohlis was erected by the Media Foundation. Together with the historic Villa Ida building where the actual seat of the Foundation is located it forms an interesting ensemble and thus literally combines old and new.
“Media Campus Villa Ida” is home of the “Leipzig School of Media” (LSoM), a subsidiary of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig. In cooperation with local universities, the LSoM offers part-time master courses for media professionals. www.leipzigschoolofmedia.de
The building includes a large hall for events with a capacity of up to 280 seats, which can be divided by a movable partition wall. This room can also be used as a lecture hall. On the first floor you find two seminar rooms with 25 seats each, a training room for video editing with ten seats and an audio recording studio. On the top floor there is a PC room with 23 seats and offices for lecturers. In addition, the building accommodates a small public bistro, which also supplies the Media Campus and four apartments for scholars/guest lecturers.
Hotel Michaelis Leipzig runs our “Restaurant Campus” and is the exclusive partner for the catering of every event at “Media Campus”.Diese Seite ausdrucken