Leipzig, 3 May, 2005. Politicians, academics and media representatives – the fifth award of the Leipzig Media Prize, which took place at the banquet hall of the New Town Hall in Leipzig, was attended by a top-flight audience. The "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" was awarded this year for the fifth time by the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig.
Wolfgang Tiefensee (Social Democrats), Lord Mayor of Leipzig, resembled the Monday demonstrations in the fall of 1989: "The citizens of Leipzig have shown that change can be obtained by force of demonstrations, candles and prayers. Elsewhere, it will happen in a similar way as it happened in Leipzig," said Tiefensee. Addressing the laureates, he added: "I wish that the prize will strengthen you, so that you can get through the freedom of the media all around the world."
This year’s laureates Anna Politkovskaya, Hans-Martin Tillack, Britta Petersen and Seymour Hersh appeared moved by the recognition of their work. Anna Politkovskaya, an expert on Chechnya, thanked: "To me, this means that you are understanding how bad the situation in Chechnya is. I can get involved and I may change something. Maybe in my next life I will get thanks for this."
Hans-Martin Tillack, correspondent of Stern magazine who uncovered corruption and deplorable state of affairs within the EU, denoted the "Prize of the Freedom and Future of the Media" as "the greatest recognition I’ve received for my work until now." In his opinion it is very important that investigative reporting and profound investigation are still be upheld in Leipzig: "As you can see from my example, this is not always the case in the European capital of Brussels."
Britta Petersen also received the appreciation of her work on behalf of her organisation "Initiative Freie Presse" ("Initiative Free Press"). "Without the help of our partner organisation 'Mediothek für Afghanistan' ('Resource Centre for Afghanistan') and the work of many volunteers, the project would not have been made possible," said the former editor of Financial Times Germany. Simultaneously, she campaigned for financial support for training young Afghan journalists and for the establishment of a free press in the country at the Hindu Kush. "I thank the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the current funding and I hope that this will continue."
Last but not least, US "muckraker" Seymour Hersh was honoured. "This prize is very important to me," said the Pulitzer Prize laureate. At the same time, he appreciated the work of Anna Politkovskaya and Britta Petersen: "I write in Washington, while the other laureates risk their lives," said Hersh. The legendary journalist and author let the Leipzig audience know that he does not intend to rest on his numerous awards, on the contrary: "George W. Bush is in office for still 1336 days – that’s a very long time."