Subject: Journalism's Finest Pay Tribute to Outstanding International Colleagues Who Never Gave Up

Journalism's Finest Pay Tribute to Outstanding International Colleagues Who Never Gave Up

PR Newswire - Tuesday October 14, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Three media professionals from East Timor, Moldova and Guatemala will be honored this week in Washington for their outstanding achievements in the face of political and economic threats.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) selected these three extraordinary journalists for recognition at the sixth annual Excellence in International Journalism Awards Dinner on Wednesday, October 15. Jose Antonio Belo of East Timor, Corina Cepoi of Moldova, and Jose Ruben Zamora of Guatemala will each receive the 2003 Knight International Press Fellowship Award.

"The persistence and commitment of these journalists to their profession has made a dramatic impact on both the media and democracy in their countries," said ICFJ president David Anable. "Their integrity and independence under difficult circumstances provided an invaluable public service and has inspired other journalists to aim for the highest standards in their work."

The evening will begin with a private viewing at the Phillips Collection and a reception at the Westin Embassy Row Hotel. The guest speaker at the dinner will be Michael Beschloss, an award-winning historian of the Presidency and the author of eight books, including the bestseller "The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945." The dinner begins at 8:00 p.m.

The Knight International Press Fellowship Awards, honoring individuals who have done outstanding work and have raised the standards of media excellence in their countries, will be awarded to:

Jose Antonio Belo, whose television footage vividly told the story of those fighting for the independence of East Timor from Indonesia. Belo videotaped a banned political demonstration in 1995 and was captured and tortured by Indonesian military and imprisoned for 18 months. Upon release, he ventured into conflict zones with his camera and shot some of the first footage of fighting between rebel forces and Indonesian soldiers. In 1999, following the East Timorese vote for independence, he videotaped the wholesale destruction of his country by pro-Jakarta militias. With the arrival of multinational peacekeepers, Associated Press Television offered him a position as their local cameraman. His pictures of the reconstruction of East Timor and of the country's independence celebration in 2002 have been seen on news programs around the world. Today, Belo covers a different struggle in East Timor -- the growth and survival of democratic institutions and the fight for economic independence in the world's newest nation.

Corina Cepoi, who was the first director of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) in Chisinau, Moldova. The Center provides journalism training, legal support and resources for the country's media and has developed a reputation for being one of the few sources of encouragement for journalists in this former Soviet republic, now the poorest country in Europe. Cepoi has dedicated herself to raising the standards by which Moldovan journalists and media managers operate. She strives to eliminate the compromises that reporters can be compelled to make under existing political and economic pressures. After guiding the Center through its first years, Cepoi is now directing the establishment of Moldova's first school of journalism at the IJC.

Jose Ruben Zamora, who is the editor of elPeriodico in Guatemala City. Zamora began his career in journalism at the age of 17 as a reporter for the family newspaper, La Hora. He then established Siglo Veintiuno (21st Century), a daily that earned a reputation as Guatemala's most daring newspaper. Its investigative reporting soon led to harassment, death threats and physical attacks on Zamora and his staff. When the government censored the paper, Zamora changed the masthead to Siglo Catorce (14th Century) and ran solid blocks of black ink in the place of censored stories. After Zamora resigned from Siglo Veintiuno, he was the target of a grenade attack, which he believed was to prevent him from founding another newspaper. But with the assistance of donations from fellow Guatemalans, Zamora soon launched elPeriodico. Zamora has continued to face harassment over his newspaper's investigations into corruption and drug trafficking. In June 2003, he and his family were attacked in their home by 12 men, who warned, "If you value your children, stop bothering the people above." Zamora sent his family into exile, but he remains in Guatemala.

Each year, the Knight award winners are nominated and selected by Knight Fellows who have participated in the Knight International Press Fellowship Program. The program, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and administered by ICFJ, sends U.S. professionals overseas to share journalism, management, business and technical skills with colleagues around the globe. Since the program began in 1994, 171 Fellows have assisted independent media organizations in more than 80 countries.

The International Center for Journalists was established in 1984 to improve the quality of journalism worldwide through professional training, fellowships and exchanges. During the past 19 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 15,000 journalists from 174 countries. The Center is an independent nonprofit institution based in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE International Center for Journalists

/CONTACT: Andrew Cohen or Susan Talalay of the International Center for Journalists, +1-202-737-3700/

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