Zaffar Abbas Awarded for Supporting Press Freedom

December 2019

Zaffar Abbas, the editor of Pakistan’s leading English daily DAWN, has been recognized for his extraordinary and sustained achievements towards journalistic freedom. In recognition of his efforts, he has been awarded the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award this year. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York, is of the view that he has made outstanding efforts in this regard. The. American journalist Lester Holt presented the award to Abbas, saying that he was a deserving recipient. The award, previously known as the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, was renamed in 2017 to honour veteran journalist and former board member Gwen Ifill who died in 2016.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ, Abbas has been a vocal supporter of the safety of journalists even at a time when journalists and media in Pakistan were facing extraordinary pressure. He was appointed in 2015 as the chairman of Editors for Safety, a body of editors who work to provide protection to journalists facing threats.

“Zaffar Abbas is the embodiment of journalistic courage, which is why the board is so pleased to honour him with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. Every day he fights to deliver facts to Dawn’s readers in the face of pressure, obstacles and blockades from the institutions in Pakistan that would much prefer to go about their business without scrutiny from the press or the public,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of the CPJ board.

Abbas, who joined DAWN in 2006 and became its editor in 2010, started his journalistic career in 1981 as a junior reporter at The Star, a Karachi-based evening newspaper that is now defunct. The newspaper was a part of the Herald Group which also publishes Dawn. He then moved to monthly Herald (again a Herald Group publication) as an investigative journalist in 1988. In 1992 joined the BBC as its Pakistan correspondent

Lester Holt presenting the award to Zaffar Abbas
(From L to R): Patrícia Campos Mello, Maxence Melo Mubyazi, Zaffar Abbas, Lucía Pineda Ubau, Miguel Mora and Neha Dixit awarded CJP’s 2019 International Press Freedom Award.
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