They believe 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, says: “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.”
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 his 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.
Peter Preston, the director of the Guardian Foundation, one of the founding fathers, says: “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 and 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 says: “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
• Stichting Democratie en Media – The Netherlands
• Vereniging Veronica – The Netherlands
• The Jyllands-Posten Foundation (Denmark)
• The Politiken Foundation (Denmark)
• The Media Development Loan Fund (Czech Republic)