The following distinguished group of journalists have received the Pearl Award for courage and integrity in journalism. The world has come to know Daniel Pearl as the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002, just four months after 9/11. People around the world, along with his pregnant wife and family, prayed for his release. Since then, he has been remembered as a symbol of hope: a man who built bridges between diverse cultures — as a writer and a gifted musician. The Daniel Pearl Memorial Award is given for courage and integrity in journalism.
2002 Daniel Pearl
2003 Michael Kelly
2004 James Nachtwey and Michael Weisskopf
2005 Jesus Blancornelas
2006 Kevin Sites
2007 Anna Politkovskaya
2008 Bob Woodruff
2009 Robyn Dixon
2010 Anne Garrels
2011 Richard Engel
2012 The Pearl Family
2013 Sandra Rodríguez Nieto
Daniel Pearl , who worked as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, had reported from around the world including London, Paris, and finally Bombay, where he served as South Asia bureau chief. He was kidnapped on January 23, 2003 in Karachi, Pakistan, while reporting a story. He died at the hands of his captors. His death is mourned by relatives, friends, colleagues, readers, and millions around the world, and he is the first recipient of the Daniel Pearl award.
Michael Thomas Kelly was an award-winning journalist who covered the war in Iraq for the Washington Post and Atlantic Monthly. He left the comfort of his dual editing and columnist jobs to volunteer to be embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. He was killed on April 3, 2003, along with his driver, when their Humvee rolled over averting enemy fire and careened into a canal. The New Yorker explained of Kelly, “Kind and good-humored as Mike was in person, his columns were tough and provocative in approach–and were meant to be so. ..We mourn the passing of Mike Kelly: a large talent, a valued colleague, a respected competitor, a beloved friend.
James Nacktwey & Michael Weisskopf were jointly recognized in 2004. While riding in a roofless Humvee with Time photographer Jim Nachtwey and four soldiers, Weisskopf tried to throw away a grenade that someone had tossed into the vehicle. His bravery cost him his right hand, but by all accounts it saved the lives of everyone in the Humvee. He returned to work, and continues to share his observations from two reporting trips to Iraq.
Nachtwey, who was on assignment in Iraq to shoot Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” story on the American soldier, didn’t like the idea of being on Humvee patrol in Iraq. The shrapnel from the grenade explosion pierced his legs, groin, abdomen, left arm and hand, and parts of his face. Over 23 years, Nachtwey has documented war, poverty, and disease, and has thrust himself time and again to the front lines of the most dangerous situations in the world. By exposing injustices in distant lands, he wants to create awareness among the key decision-makers and the constituencies they serve.
Jesus Blancornelas goes to work every day knowing that the people he’s been writing about for 25 years are trying desperately to kill him. Preferably in front of his three kids. Tijuana’s murderous drug cartels, the most high-profile target of Blancornelas’ investigative newsweekly Zeta, placed an $80,000 bounty on his head and forced him to adopt an armed entourage of no less than 13 bodyguards. In 1997, a 10-man, 180-bullet ambush killed bodyguard Luis Valero and Blancornelas survived after taking bullets to the neck, lung, liver, and intestines and losing four liters of blood and undergoing two emergency surgeries. He could have easily stepped down, but instead he founded Mexico’s Society of Journalists and continued his work. He said that he is not in the business to wage war, but that “news is news, and I am a journalist.”
Kevin Sites , at 43, has reported on, and been the subject of, more controversy than a typical war journalist experiences during an entire career. Sites was tapped by Yahoo! in September 2005 to launch his news journal “Hot Zone” where he plans in a single year to cover the roughly three-dozen armed conflicts identified globally by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Yahoo! describes the brand of journalism Sites is practicing as “a nexus of backpack journalism, narrative story-telling techniques, and the Internet. For millions of online users who have seen his work and images, both terrible and beautiful, the untraditional risk-taker is practicing journalism in its most unfettered form.
Anna Politkovskaya received the Pearl Award posthumously after she was found shot to death in the elevator of her Moscow apartment in late 2006. The Moscow bi-weekly Novaya Gazeta published her reports on the complicated relationship between Russia and Chechnya–a conflict over religion, natural resources and more than a century of brutality against the Chechen people. Investigators suspect that the killing will be linked to her work. She was about to file a story on torture in Chechnya.
Bob Woodruff is not your typical war hero. He’s never fired a shot or killed anyone in battle. He was named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight in December 2005, but once again left the safety of his anchor desk to stand shoulder to shoulder with fighting men in Iraq, believing there was no other way to present a truthful picture of the battlefield. On January 29, 2006, while reporting from the war zone, he was seriously wounded by a roadside IED that detonated twenty feet away. According to medical reports, he came within a millimeter of dying that day. Woodruff awoke from his coma and stunned doctors by speaking immediately. He immediately began embarking on the grueling odyssey back to health and a full-scale functioning as a journalist.
Robyn Dixon has covered riots in Kenya and escaped gunfire in Grozny. She was on an airplane that nearly crashed and once, while on a dark road in Afghanistan, she and her companions were shelled by Taliban mortars. What is almost as important as Dixon’s ability to survive these harrowing encounters, is her passion for telling stories–brave stories, sad stories, strange stories, human stories–that the world would otherwise not know. Dixon doesn’t know where her next assignment will be. Although she has certainly earned the right to a desk job in some safe locale, it doesn’t sound like she will take that option any time soon.
Richard Engel was named NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent in April 2008. His reports appear on all platforms of NBC News, including “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” MSNBC, and msnbc.com. Engel, one of the few western journalists to cover the entire war in Iraq, joined NBC News in May 2003.
Engel has lived in the Middle East for more than twelve years and speaks and reads fluent Arabic, which he learned while living in the slums of Cairo after graduating from Stanford University in 1996 with a B.A. in international relations world.. Engel is the author of two books, “A Fist in the Hornet’s Nest” and “War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq,” chronicling his experiences covering the Iraq war. His brave and courageous broadcast has impacted viewers worldwide.
The Daniel Pearl Foundation has been formed by Danny’s family and friends to continue Danny’s mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Danny’s work and character. These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor, and friendship.
Sandra Rodríguez Nieto has worked for El Diario de Juárez from 2003 to 2012 where she has courageously written about local government corruption and the failures in the judicial system. She has also written about immigration issues as well as the military deployment that turned
Juarez into one of the most dangerous cities on earth. She has focused on how a lack of education and jobs drives thousands of young people into the brutal world of crime and drugs. Her reporting has revealed the organizational structure of competing drug cartels and their ability to evade law enforcement. She continually reports on the composition of warring gangs fighting for control of Juárez and how the alleged leaders have been out of reach of the authorities. In 2010, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo presented her with the Reporteros Del Mundo award for her outstanding work covering a conflict zone. That same year, she made the Los Angeles Times’ Media Hero list for reporting in one of the most dangerous cities on earth. She is currently collaborating with SinEmbargo.mx, in Mexico City.