At the annual Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Awards this past Tuesday, the director and deputy director of a fledgling news agency in Afghanistan, Pajhwok Afghan News, were among those honored for courageous reporting in repressive environments.
Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad have been covering news and fighting for media rights for the past five years in a country where violence, repression and intimidation are as much a part of life as squalor and lawlessness They aren't in it for the awards or "career advancement" or even the exhilaration of covering a historic event -- all the reasons that bring Western journalists to dangerous assignments in war zones. They're freedom fighters in the truest sense and it was terrific to see them recognized for their noble, and mostly unsung, heroism.
Impressions from the CPJ awards banquet: It always makes me a little uncomfortable to walk into the splendid ballroom of New York's Waldorf Astoria wearing a tux and consuming a couple of mixed drinks along with the happy chatter all about me before we sot down to a fine meal ... and a series of video news reports that transport us to some of the most horrific places on earth, as far from the comfortable spendor of mid-town Manhattan as imaginable. And always two days before Thanksgiving. That's no coincidence -- CPJ wants us to give thanks for the freedom and liberties we enjoy and to help in the fight against press repression anywhere and everywhere.
Politically Incorrect Idle thought: Overhearing a discussion in decidedly British accents about our new President elect -- can someone please tell the Brits that his name is not Barack O-bomber!