The Nieman Foundation at Harvard University announced April 30, 1986 that Violeta Chamorro, publisher of the daily newspaper La Prensa in Managua, Nicaragua, has won the 1986 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism for her newspaper’s efforts to keep a free press alive in Nicaragua.
Mrs. Chamorro was chosen for the award by a vote of the 20 members of the Nieman Fellow Class of 1986. The award, named after former Nieman curator Louis M. Lyons, carries a $1,000 honorarium.
Mrs. Chamorro is the widow of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro whose assassination accelerated the downfall of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Under Mr. Chamorro, La Prensa established a tradition of independence.
Mrs. Chamorro was a member of the first junta which replaced Somoza but broke with the Sandinista leadership when its intention to muzzle the press became clear.
She has remained at the helm of La Prensa through difficult times. Editors and reporters have been harassed. The paper has appeared with blank pages due to government censorship. At times, La Prensa has been prevented from publishing at all.
“It takes courage and integrity to do what Mrs. Chamorro has done,”said Mark Ethridge III, chairman of the Awards Committee. “She has resisted repression and censorship from whichever corner it has come. And while some opponents of the Sandinistas have fled, she has chosen to stay in Managua to keep her newspaper and the notion of a free press alive.”