IWMF Honors Women Journalists and Inspires Annenberg Students
Today, USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism was honored to host this year’s three female recipients of the Courage in Journalism Awards: Mwape Kumwenda, a reporter for Muvi Television in Zambia; Anna Nemtsova, a contributor for The Daily Beast and Newsweek in Russia; and Lourdes Ramirez, a freelance journalist in Honduras; as well as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award: Linda Deutsch, a special correspondent and former trial reporter for the Associated Press.
For the past 25 years, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has honored female journalists each year with the Courage in Journalism Awards for demonstrating exemplary bravery, integrity and commitment to justice. In addition, IWMF presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to one woman who successfully fought for opportunities and equality for women in the journalism field. These women have faced numerous challenges and dangers in the process of uncovering and reporting the truth. IWMF has awarded over 100 female journalists from 54 countries since. The award winners participated in a forum at USC Annenberg for a Q&A session, “IWMF Courage in Journalism Award Winners who Faced and Survived Danger to Uncover the Truth” with students this afternoon.
Mwape Kumwenda is a Zambian journalist and Muvi Television’s Head of Community and Political News. Kumwenda feels strongly about bringing awareness to the poverty, inequality and corruption in her home country. In Zambia, the government has the power to manipulate the media to their own gain, suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of press. Kumwenda and Muvi Television have reported on government murders, illegal evictions, and forced marriages of young women. “The work that I am doing is not about myself and it’s about the people and about the public,” she said. “It involves risks that we need to take.”
A contributor for The Daily Beast and Newsweek in Russia, Anna Nemtsova is a well-accomplished international reporter. When asked about her passion about journalism, she said, “You are responsible for their life. Every story is like a baby, you can’t give it up.” As a reporter who has dealt firsthand with the censorship in Russia, she encourages aspiring journalists to never stop writing the truth and write strong narratives. “How can we report an honest story if we can’t criticize the administration?” she asks. “Every story always has a character, narrative, and an argument. I try to tell my mother what motivates me. I’m eager to tell a strong narrative and a strong story.”
Lourdes Ramirez, a freelance journalist in Honduras, is an exemplary example of a female journalist who has gone through extreme difficulties in the name of journalism. “My parents have passed away already, and I have my husband and my three daughters. I don’t always tell them what’s going on because the risk has become way higher,” Ramirez said. “I was kidnapped for half an hour, I never told them until a year and a half later and because I gave an interview in a foreign country. The risks have tripled in journalism.” Ramirez is an example of perseverance, resilience and bravery. “I suffered sexual harrassment from my editor & even the people I interview. I was fired for not complying with it.” With such terrible treatment, Ramirez has continued to become a trailblazer in the field and inspire women from all over the world to pursue their passion. She plans to remain a journalist until the day she dies.
Linda Deutsch, the 2015 Lifetime achievement Honoree, is a retired special correspondent and trial reporter for the Associated Press. She was the only woman reporter at the Associated Press during her time and received discrimination as a female journalist. “I had to prove myself more than men did. I was one of the few reporters that went to a trial and stayed for the whole thing.” Though she originally intended to become a poet, she decided to go for a more steady profession and realized that her calling was in journalism. “Some of my friends in journalism would tell me that journalism was their career,” she said. “But that it was my destiny.” Some of Deutsch’s career highlights include reporting the killing of Robert Kennedy, the trial of OJ Simpson, and Charles Manson.