ScribbleLive has had a hand in reporting on the tumultous Arab Spring. A tool that removes traditional barriers to publishing can empower reporters and photographers, and in countries that have a tight grip on information, real-time reporting allows journalists to spread news quickly before governments can clamp down. ScribbleLive is used by news orgs such as Al Jazeera and Reuters to push information from the heart of violent protests to the rest of the world.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still huge challenges facing people working from the field. These brave men and women were honoured last night at the annual awards gala hosted by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), which focussed on courgeaous reporting and whistleblowing.
ScribbleLive donated its liveblog software to the CJFE. The organization uses it to cover their forums and galas: this is Scribble’s second year attending the ceremony (I’ve liveblogged both times, and have written for their International Press Freedom review for the past three years). It’s a humbling night packed with videos and speeches from talented journalists risking their lives, facing threats, jail, beatings and even murder, all in the pursuit of important stories. The most harrowing part of the evening was a slideshow listing the names and countries of journalists killed in 2011 — 89 so far. The audience gasped as Mexico flitted across the screen, where the names of the dead filled the entire page.
My favourite quote of the evening, from Egyptian journalist Mohamed Abdelfattah, talking about how his president equated journalism to spying. “Journalists are like spies: both seek information. But the spy hands it to authorities, and the journalist hands it to the public interest.”
A posthumous award was given to Ron Haggart, and his daughter shared a video of a speech where he derided the state of Canadian journalism, with it’s ever-shrinking pool of voices. A trio of scientists won an award for their whistleblowing role in exposing a dangerous bovine hormone. Abdelfattah and Yemeni journalist Khaled al-Hammadi were awarded the prestiguous International Press Freedom award for their contributions to Arab Spring reporting (I profiled al-Hammadi for the Press Freedom Review.
Check out CJFE’s liveblog for videos and transcripts of speeches, a photojournalism slideshow, tweets from the audience and photos of the powerful editorial cartoons exhibit.