Newsletter No 21 07 March 2006
 
News from the Media Scene:
Gebran Tueni Award to Honor Slain Publisher

WAN has announced the creation of the Gebran Tueni Award, which will annually honor a newspaper publisher or editor in the Arab world who demonstrates the values upheld by the WAN Board Member and Lebanese democracy advocate who was assassinated in Beirut in December.

As a permanent memorial to Mr Tueni, the award, which will carry a 10,000 Euro stipend for newspaper leadership training, will be given to an editor or publisher of an Arabic-language publication whose activity reflects a profound attachment to the freedom and independence of the press, courage, leadership, ambition and the search for high managerial and professional standards.

"Perhaps no one individual contributed as much to our work in the free press field as Gebran in the recent history of our organization," said Timothy Balding, Chief Executive Officer of the Paris-based WAN.

"Gebran was a unique figure in WAN affairs for almost 20 years, as a leading member of our Press Freedom Committee, a Board member for more than a decade, a regular participant in missions to press freedom ’hot spots’ and a constant adviser and support to the leadership of our organization on Arab and press freedom issues, " he said.

The award jury will consist of representatives of WAN and the Tueni family. The 10,000 Euro stipend will enable the award winner to undertake advanced newspaper leadership training through the training institute of An-Nahar, Gebran Tueni’s newspaper in the Lebanon. Additional forms of support will also be given by WAN to the award laureate.

Announcing the award at a news conference at An-Nahar in Beirut, Mr Balding once more condemned the ’cowardly’ killing of Gebran Tueni and called on Lebanese authorities to accelerate the investigation into his murder, "which in no circumstances can remain unpunished".

An-Nahar and WAN also announced that they would jointly organize a conference in Beirut in September or October to draw attention to the threats against a free press in the Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world. Called ‘Press Under Siege’, the event is a continuation of a series of WAN ’Media in Danger’ conferences focusing on countries or regions where violence against the press has become endemic. Three others have taken place: in Bogota, Colombia; in the Basque region of Spain; and in Kyrgyzstan, covering the Central Asian Republics.

The first Gebran Tueni Award will be given at the conference.

Mr Tueni, an outspoken supporter of Lebanese democracy, was killed by a massive car bomb on 12 December. Although he knew he was a high-priority target for the killers trying to undermine the political process in Lebanon, he chose to stay at the helm of his newspaper, which under his leadership was a beacon for independent journalism in the Arab world.

Enquiries about the award should be addressed to WAN CEO Timothy Balding at tbalding@wan.asso.fr.