Press release 25 June, 2019: Prize for "independent journalism with the gloves off"

Austrian TV presenter Armin Wolf and the German journalists Arndt Ginzel and Gerald Gerber receive the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" 2019 of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig.

Leipzig, 25 June 2019. The Austrian TV presenter Armin Wolf and the team of two German journalists Arndt Ginzel and Gerald Gerber will win the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media 2019. The prize, which is endowed with 30,000 euros prize money, is awarded by the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig to media workers who strive for media freedom and independent reporting in a particularly exceptional way, often putting their own welfare in danger.

"Sadly, anonymous threats, open hostility or physical attacks on journalists are almost a daily occurrence in central Europe" explains Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation. "With the choice of prize winners for 2019 from Germany and Austria the jury is setting a clear marker for press freedom and journalists to be able to work freely without threats and injuries." A well-respected study by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, a Centre which was partly initiated by the Media Foundation, lists at least 20 attacks on media workers in Germany in 2018 alone.

"Armin Wolf practices independent journalism with the gloves off - his democratic grounding and his incisive questions make him a very important protagonist for freedom of expression and press freedom in the Austrian media even under changing political conditions. Thanks to the work of Arndt Ginzel and Gerald Gerber, the discussion of questions of press freedom, the protection of journalists and how to deal with critics who are prepared to use violence has strengthened the work of journalists in Germany," is how Seeger explained the decision of the Prize jury. The Award ceremony of the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media takes place on 8 October 2019 in Leipzig (starting at 18:00). It's on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of the demonstrations against the regime of the German Democratic Republic, which proved decisive - not only for Leipzig. The prize money will be divided between Armin Wolf (15,000 euros) and Arndt Ginzel and Gerald Gerber who each receive 7,500 euros.

About the prize winners

Armin Wolf was born in 1966 in Innsbruck, Austria. Since 2010 he has been the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the news channel of Austrian television channel ORF and since 2002 he has been the presenter of the ORF news programme "Zeit im bild" (ZIB2). He started his career with ORF as a school leaver, working freelance for the regional studio in the Tirol. Since then he has worked as Political Editor in radio and TV, USA correspondent (1991-92), Editorial Director and presenter. Wolf regularly gives lectures and has published several books - the latest in 2013. It's titled "Why do we still need journalists?" In 2019, Wolf began to be talked about all over Europe following his TV interview with Harald Vilimsky, General Secretary of the right-wing FPÖ party. Vilimsky countered Wolf's critical questions about a poster displayed by the Styrian youth wing of the FPÖ that this "would have consequences" for the presenter. Even before that, Wolf had several times been a target for the FPÖ. Amongst other things he was accused of insubordination in his questioning and spreading "lies". In 2018 he did a highly respected interview in Moscow with Vladimir Putin. Wolf has been awarded many prizes for his work, amongst others as "Austrian journalist of the year 2004, 2018). In Germany he has received a special award of the Hanns Joachim Friedrich Prize (2016) and the Netzwerk Recherche Lighthouse Prize (2017) and a "Special Honour" Award of the Grimme Prize (2018).

Arndt Ginzel (born in Spremberg in 1972) is a German investigative journalist who studied at the University of Leipzig and today works regularly for German TV magazine shows, including ZDF's "Zoom", "The Story in the East" (ARD), "Exact" and "Fact" on MDR /ARD or ZDF's "Frontal21". He became well known for his research into the so-called "Saxon Swamp" corruption scandal, which he reported in Spiegel and Zeit Online. He was taken to court for this case with a complaint of defamation and slander. He lost the case in the original court but at the second instance he was cleared. In 2015 he was imprisoned by pro-Russian rebels whilst researching in East Ukraine. He won the Bavarian TV Prize for the reportage "Shadow play - Putin's undeclared war against the West", which he made together with Markus Weller and he won a nomination for Best Documentary at the German TV Awards 2017 for his reportage "Putin's secret network - how Russia is splitting the West".

Gerald Gerber (born in Meissen in 1972) has been working in film and TV production in Dresden and Leipzig since 1997 and works as a freelance camera operator, mainly for German TV productions and programmes such as "Tagesschau" (ARD), "Frontal21" (ZDF), "Galileo" (Pro7) and "MDR um 2" (MDR). He was a founder member of Meissen TV in 1996 and a member of its Executive Board until 2002. Gerber worked as a camera operator on many foreign assignments for ARD and ZDF in the East Ukraine conflict. In November 2016 he was arrested by Syrian security forces whilst filming on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Arndt Ginzel and Gerald Gerber were subjected to lengthy police checks during the course of a Pegida demonstration in Dresden. It was provoked by a demonstrator who apparently did not want his face to be photographed and it hampered their reporting work for some considerable time. This led to wide-ranging discussions about press freedom and the role of the police in that conflicted zone that lies between security measures, protecting the freedom of assembly for demonstrators and making sure that journalists can do their jobs unhindered. The Dresden Police President Horst Kretzschmar later apologised for the action taken against the journalists. "I would like to confirm unmistakably that we, the police, have a responsibility to ensure that press freedom is assured in our state. As police chief I regret this incident, which was not in order, and I have ensured that we will reappraise it so that we can learn from it," said Kretzschmar.


Laureates:
2019 - Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media
2019 - Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media
2019 - Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media