Journalists are imperiled all over the world, especially women, and more, women in cultures where rights for women at large are not guaranteed. Illustrating the remarkable contribution of women journalists, their courage, commitment, and sacrifice, the International Women’s Media Foundation luncheon, hosted byCynthia McFadden and Norah O’Donnell at Cipriani 42 Street this week, began with mention of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who died of a car bomb last Monday in Malta. She had been investigating and reporting on her government’s connection to the Panama Papers. At a table adjacent to mine sat the parents of slain Swedish born journalist Kim Wall. As Andrea Mitchell, awarded for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, wryly pointed out, a healthy news corps is our only way of watching what is going on, an alert to corrupt regimes. But of course in some circles, news is maligned as “fake,” and one of the honorees, Yemeni correspondent for Al Jazeera, Hadeel Al-Yamani, was denied a visa under the current United States policy. What threat does Hadeel Al-Yamani pose to the borders of America, asked Andrea Mitchell. If we can’t extend a visa to her, what is our freedom?
NPR’s Deborah Amos and Saniya Toiken, a reporter from Radio Free Europe, Kazakhstan were also honored. Lisa Caputo received the IWMF Leadership Award and Michele Norris, the Inaugural Gwen Ifill Award, named for the beloved correspondent, was honored as well. A high point of the lunch was a conversation between Andrea Mitchell and Rachel Maddow, who praised Mitchell for making room for her in the newsroom. Of course, the topic of the day, women coming forward to expose sexual harassment in the workplace, at Fox News, Harvey Weinstein’s multiple transgressions, was the elephant in the room. Quipped Mitchell, I thought this ended with Clarence Thomas.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central