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Media foundations launch European Press Prize

Seven of Europe’s most distinguished media foundations have joined forces to launch the European Press Prize, rewarding excellence in journalism across all 47 countries of Europe.

Although MDIF is a global foundation and its partners are exclusively European, we share a belief that saluting serious writing and reporting – in print or on newspaper websites – can help raise journalism’s role as a vital defender of democracy’s freedoms.

Adriaan Stoop, Chairman of the Board of the European Press Prize Foundation, said:

“All our foundations have strong connections to media organisations. We deeply believe that therefore we have a responsibility for the quality of the public debate in Europe. By launching these awards we want to encourage high-quality, innovative and independent journalism. Now that Europe is going through a crucial episode in its development affecting its citizens in many ways, we feel that this is essential to inspire a truly European discourse.”

Four awards

In the first year of the Prize, awards will be given in four separate categories. Each award consists of €10,000.

1. The Editing Award – For the editor who the judges believe has contributed most to public debate and public understanding;

2. The Commentator Award – For the feature writer, columnist or commentator who has done most to illuminate vital issues for readers;

3. The News Reporting Award – For the reporter or specialist expert whose work has made a decisive impact;

4. The Innovation Award – For the outstanding innovation of the year – in print or via digital: anything that makes a significant contribution to journalism’s future.

“Although the foundations behind the Prize own news media in different parts of the continent – MDIF, for instance, invests in independent news outlets in those countries in Europe, and the rest of the world, with a history of media oppression – we all share a belief in the power of journalism,” said Bernard Poulet, Board Member of the European Press Prize and Chairman of MDIF’s Board of Directors. “By honouring the best European writing and reporting – in any language – we are underlining the importance of independent news in the development and maintenance of free, fair and prosperous societies across all 47 countries of Europe, and beyond.”

Peter Preston, the director of the Guardian Foundation, one of the founding fathers, said: “The genesis of these awards was almost spontaneous. All the involved foundations and trusts represent an abiding concern for the quality of journalism – and its role in safeguarding freedom. Here are awards that make that concern real.”

First awards in January 2013

Entries for year one of the awards open on July 1 and close on October 26, 2012. The winners – judged by a distinguished panel from different areas of Europe and under the chairmanship of Sir Harold Evans, editor-at-large of Thomson Reuters and former editor of London’s Sunday Times – will be announced in January and have their awards presented at a congress of Europe’s media foundations in the De Balie Debating Centre, Amsterdam, on 26 February, 2013.

Sir Harold Evans will be joined on the judging panel by: Jørgen Ejbøl, chairman of JP/Politiken Newspapers and former editor of Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen; Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director of Le Monde in Paris; Yevgenia Albats, editor of New Times in Moscow; and Paolo Flores d’Arcais, one of the most influential philosophers and writers in Italy.

Sir Harold Evans said: “The great good that journalism can achieve has been overcast by the scandals of phone hacking, blagging, bribery, and the corruption endemic in too cosy a relationship between press and politicians. It is exhilarating that leading foundations are co-operating to recognize excellence in the press and doing it for the whole of Europe at a time when the European ideal is under siege.”

The founders of the Prize are:

  • The Guardian Foundation – United Kingdom
  • The Thomson Reuters Foundation – United Kingdom
  • Media Development Investment Fund – Czech Republic
  • Stichting Democratie en Media – The Netherlands
  • Vereniging Veronica – The Netherlands
  • The Jyllands-Posten Foundation (Denmark)
  • The Politiken Foundation (Denmark)

For more background and practical information: www.europeanpressprize.com.

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