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Jineth Bedoya Lima Golden Pen of Freedom Acceptance Speech

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Jineth Bedoya Lima Golden Pen of Freedom Acceptance Speech

Watch the award ceremony here:

"On May 25, 2000, I understood the magnitude of what it meant to be a journalist. While my kidnappers were taking me to the place where they tortured and raped me, the recurring and painful thought in my head was that I would have to leave the newsroom of El Espectador. To see myself forced to abandon my notebooks, my interviews and all the material I had collected up to that point.

I understood that it was doing my job with honesty that had led me to that point, and after long hours, in which I just wanted to die, journalism also made me understand that I had a drive to keep going. The love for my craft gave me the strength to stand up. I did it in the belief that through my writing and research, I would find the resolve to take the next step.

And so I did. That is why I am here today. To look back is to rediscover the greatness of what communicating really means. But the cost has not been any less than the passion for my work. My colleagues and I, both in the newsroom of El Espectador, and for the last 18 years in EL TIEMPO, had to overcome many obstacles, threats and intimidations in order to exercise an independent journalism committed to the people.

Fighting for freedom of the press involves stigmatisation, targeting and often incredulity. But it is, undoubtedly, the best letter of recommendation a journalist can have. A job untainted by political and ideological convictions ought to be his/her roadmap.

This is precisely the great challenge we are living in these times, when new means of communication compel us to play a leading role in innovation.

The shift from print to digital requires us to act with greater accountability to our audiences, and to gauge ourselves as information professionals.

As Ryszard Kapuscinski said: before being journalists we are human beings, and this is what we must implement in our daily work. Placing ourselves in the shoes of that other who is in front of our microphone, our camera, at the other end of the notes that we will turn into stories. That has to count for more than the immediacy to which social networks lead us.

This is perhaps the most important aspect of what this award means to me: the duty to be more diligent, to believe less and to doubt more, to embrace the new technological and information realities and, above all, to acknowledge the great social responsibility that journalism has. What we cannot afford is to shield press freedom from information that is harmful to those who read and listen to us.

I was a dreamer and young reporter when they tried to silence me and I had to become the story to understand that a story in a newspaper maybe wasn't going to change the world, but it had the power to transform somebody's reality. Fighting against the impunity of my case made the word dignity my hallmark and journalism my vindication.

Freedom of the press is one of the most precious rights, but above all it brings with it one of the greatest duties: not to be silenced."


  Jineth Bedoya Lima


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2020-09-14 18:02

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