Leipzig, 8 October, 2013. The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig awarded its "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" to journalists and institutions that dedicate themselves to ensuring and developing the freedom of the press around the world with courage and strong personal commitment. This year's laureates are: the journalist Tongam Rina from India; the initiators of "journalismfund.eu" Brigitte Alfter (Denmark) and Ides Debruyne (Belgium); the German Middle East correspondents Jörg Armbruster and Martin Durm as well as the lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald (USA) and The Guardian represented by Philip Oltermann, Berlin correspondent of the British newspaper.
In this year's "Leipzig Speech on Freedom of the Media and the Press" during the award ceremony, Hans-Ulrich Jörges, member of the editorial board of Stern magazine and editor in chief for special tasks at Gruner+Jahr, reflected the current revelations of global intelligence agency monitoring practices: "We journalists in Europe have to criticize ourselves, because we have been too credulous. (…) We were not able to imagine the scope of complex and permanent control of media communication by intelligence agencies of democratic states. Today we have to imagine it." Therefore he demanded an amendment of the European Charter for Press Freedom by adding a ban on systematic monitoring, but reminded at the same time: "We have to ensure the protection of these rules." In 2010 the idea of a European Center for Freedom of the Press and the Media came up in Leipzig, he said. Journalists and politicians have supported this idea but putting it into practice now becomes difficult despite the approved financing by the EU parliament. Jörges demanded to fight for the project: "Here in Leipzig we should, we must and we will create the European Center for the Freedom of the Press and the Media."
Since 2001, the Leipzig Media Foundation honors journalists from around the world every year with the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" who commit themselves to independent journalism despite high personal risks to their work and lives during research and in their articles and reports. The Lord Mayor of Leipzig and chairman of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation Council Burkhard Jung pointed out during the award ceremony: "Since it was created, the Leipzig 'Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media' has aimed for an international audience. It is meant to support people who are convinced of the indispensability of a worldwide public. (…) We want to support people around the world for whom freedom of expression is one of the foundations of democracy or even the ideal means
to provide a democratic atmosphere."
This year's Leipzig "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" has been endowed with 40,000 Euros for the first time - an exceptional proceeding. Dr. Harald Langenfeld, chairman of Sparkasse Leipzig and the Media Foundation said during the press conference: "Press freedom is threatened in many countries, unfortunately more and more in countries, where we wouldn't expect it in the first place because press freedom seems to be protected there by laws and constitutions." The Leipzig Media Award is concerned with current threats to press freedom too. According to the Foundation Council and the Board this concern justifies the fact that the award is given to four laureates the first time and the endowment was increased as a result of the revelations of worldwide intelligence monitoring practices by Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian.