The Australian Press Council has awarded its Press Freedom Medal to journalists Peter Greste and Gerard Ryle in recognition of their contributions to the causes of free speech and freedom of the press.
The awards were presented at a World Press Freedom Day event hosted at Twitter’s Sydney offices on Thursday, 3 May.
Press Council Chair Neville Stevens said that despite a substantial number of strong nominations, the selection committee agreed unanimously that Greste and Ryle should receive the award. (Read the citations)
“Peter’s work as a courageous foreign correspondent is well known, but his more recent work as a vocal press freedom advocate and communications scholar is less known, though no less laudable,” Mr Stevens said.
“Gerard, after a long and distinguished career as a journalist here and in Ireland, now runs an organisation that is fundamentally changing the way investigative journalism can be done in a time of dwindling revenues and staff in media companies.”
On receiving the award, Ryle said, “Never have we seen such calculated campaigns of misinformation from positions of authority. It has never been so easy for powerful people to undermine the work of journalists. It is more important than ever for journalists to stand together to protect each other and to protect the integrity of our profession."
Peter Greste said he was personally honoured to receive the award, which recognised “the importance of the continued fight to defend media freedom and the safety of journalists at a time when both are under enormous pressure”.
Journalists, communications academics, members of the legal profession and others were in the audience for the ceremony and for a panel discussion organised by Twitter featuring Kate McClymont from Fairfax, Michael Cameron from News Corp, Iranian journalist and Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani and Greste and Ryle.
The Press Freedom Medal has been awarded intermittently by the Press Council since 1999. In 2016 the Council opened it up to people, not necessarily associated with the organisation, who help ensure the preservation of free speech, press freedom and open government.
In 2017 it was won by Peter Timmins, from the Australian Open Government Partnership Network and Michael Cameron, News Corp Australia’s National Editorial.
In 2016 it was won by Kate McClymont and Paul Maley from News Corp.