CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Filmmaker Laura Poitras is winner of the 2014 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, awarded each year by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!,” also has been selected to receive a special I.F. Stone lifetime achievement award. The two journalists will be honored at a ceremony at Harvard University on February 5, 2015.
Poitras, a Berlin-based American documentary film director, journalist and artist, is co-founder of First Look Media’s The Intercept. She was chosen for the I.F. Stone Medal in recognition of her reporting exposing the massive illegal NSA surveillance program disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which is the subject of her new film CITIZENFOUR. The documentary is the third and final film in her trilogy about post-9/11 America. The first film, My Country, My Country, focused on the Iraq War and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007. The second, The Oath, about Guantanamo, was nominated for two Emmy Awards.
In June 2013, Poitras traveled to Hong Kong with reporter Glenn Greenwald to interview Edward Snowden. She has reported on Snowden’s revelations about the NSA for a variety of news outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel and The New York Times. Her NSA coverage has received a George Polk Award for National Security Reporting, the Henri Nannen Prize for Services to Press Freedom, and contributed to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service awarded to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
In recognizing Poitras’s contributions to journalism, the nominating committee noted: “Her films address complex political realities through deeply moving personal stories, allowing viewers to connect emotionally to otherwise abstract issues. Her trademark is meticulous research and extensive filming.”
Poitras’s work has affected her own privacy and freedom of movement: She has been on security watch lists for years and estimates that she has been stopped and detained 40 times when entering the United States from abroad, underlining the significance of her coverage of national security and transparency issues.
In addition to honoring Poitras, the Nieman Foundation will present a lifetime achievement award to Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, author and longtime host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!” The nominating committee stated, “As a journalist and independent media advocate, Amy Goodman exemplifies the ethos of I.F. Stone. By insulating herself against commercial pressures, she has fought vigilantly for a free press and has ensured that her reporting would always be done in service of speaking truth to power.”
For her exemplary work on “Democracy Now!,” in print and on television and radio, she has won dozens of journalism’s most coveted awards and was the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, known as an “alternative Nobel Prize,” for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.”
Goodman started her college studies with the Harvard class of 1979 and graduated with the class of 1984.
“Democracy Now!” airs on more than 1,300 public and community television and radio stations around the world.
Former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach, chair of the advisory committee that oversees the I.F. Stone award, said: “As always, the final decision of the selection committee was a difficult balancing act. The good news is that there are so many journalists out there producing independent journalism of verified fact. The bad news is that they must spend inordinate amounts of their time raising the money to support their work in the rapidly changing landscape of media ownership.”
Nieman curator Ann Marie Lipinski added, “I am grateful to Bill Kovach and the members of the advisory committee for their hard work on behalf of this prize. Nieman is honored to recognize and remind people of the journalism that I.F. Stone stood for.”
Established in 2008, the I.F Stone Medal honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone and is presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of journalistic independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published 1953-1971. The award is administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and its Nieman Watchdog Project.
An advisory committee of journalists oversees nominations and the selection of an annual medal winner. The 2014 I.F. Stone Medal selection committee was chaired by journalist Bill Kovach together with author John R. (Rick) MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine, and Myra MacPherson, author of “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone.” The group made their selection from recommendations presented by prominent journalists including John Darnton, Patricia O’Brien, Don Guttenplan, Florence Graves, Lorie Conway and Melissa Ludtke.
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard educates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,400 accomplished and promising journalists from 93 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a quarterly print and online magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism; the Nieman Journalism Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.
For more information about I.F. Stone, visit www.ifstone.org.