The 30,000 Euro Leipzig "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" 2004 is jointly awarded to American war photographer James Nachtwey, the association"Journalisten helfen Journalisten" ("Journalists help Journalists") and the Spanish daily La Voz de Galicia.
Nachtwey , who was seriously injured in Iraq recently while working as photographer, receives the prize as a lifetime achievement award for journalism. The Vietnam War and the lies he witnessed in its reporting were instrumental in his decision to become a war photographer. For more than twenty years he has been travelling to world hot spots to report on wars, civil conflicts and uprisings. Ever since his pictures have shaped our views on war in this world. They show the horrors often concealed by those at war. As early as two years after his first reports he began to work for the renowned Time Magazine and from 1986 to 2001 he was a member of the world-famous Magnum photo agency in Paris. His works are printed worldwide and displayed in museums.
The association"Journalisten helfen Journalisten" ("Journalists help Journalists") receives the Media Award for its courageous and selfless commitment to the freedom of the press, providing assistance to colleagues experiencing difficulties, obstructed in their work or maltreated, and also to dependents of killed journalists. This non-profit organisation was founded in 1993 by Christiane Schloetzer-Scotland in the wake of the war in former Yugoslavia and the death of her husband Egon Scotland, correspondent of Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Today there are 108 members from Germany, Italy and Austria who raise funds and in-kind contributions and, if necessary, personally bring them to their colleagues in need.
La Voz de Galicia (Voice of Galicia), is the largest newspaper in the region off the coast of which the "Prestige" tanker sank in November 2002, causing a massive oil spill. "La Voz" covered the events surrounding the spill with great journalistic commitment, thus foiling with its critical and visionary reporting attempts by the government and local authorities to play down the consequences of the disaster. The paper also resisted political pressure and convincingly demonstrated the power and necessity of a free and independent press.
The "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" is awarded for the fourth time by the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig. This award honours journalists and publishers as well as media institutions that take great risks, show personal commitment, courage and democratic convictions to protect and foster the freedom of the press. It also serves as a reminder of the peaceful revolution in East Germany that took its start in Leipzig and was triggered not least by people's desire for freedom of opinion and speech. This is symbolised by the award trophy that laureates receive - a bronze copy of the church columns in Nikolaikirche, where political changes began with weekly prayers for peace.
The award ceremony will take place at the end of April 2004 in Leipzig. We are currently accepting proposals for the 2005 prize - proposal deadline: 31 October 2004.
Leipzig, 9 January, 2004