August 25, 2010
The National Press Club Board of Governors voted on Aug. 23 to honor a University of Missouri journalism professor and an Iranian blogger with its 2010 John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award.
The award, given each year to one domestic and one international recipient, honors people who have contributed to the cause of press freedom and open government.
This year’s U.S. winner is Charles N. Davis, an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism who has done more than most to force light onto parts of national, state and local governments that many in power would like to keep hidden from the press and the public.
From 2005 until this year, Davis led the National Freedom of Information Coalition, an organization headquartered at the Missouri journalism school that funds open-government groups around the country. A former reporter, Davis has also helped the cause through scholarly research and writing on governmental information and media law. He has won the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Journalism Teacher of the Year from the Scripps Howard Foundation.
The board selected as the foreign winner of the award Kouhyar Goudarzi, an Iranian blogger.
Since the unrest that followed Iran's disputed presidential elections in June 2009, Iran has passed China as the world's leading jailer of journalists. Goudarzi is one of them, and his plight exemplifies that of too many imprisoned journalists around the world.
Locked up since December 2009 in the infamous Evin Prison, he has been charged with "heresy," a capital crime, "propagating" against the regime and "congregation and mutiny with intent to disrupt national security." Goudarzi is an independent blogger who is active in the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a group that seeks to promote human rights in Iran. Goudarzi was reportedly put into solitary confinement in May 2010, and his mother has said that she is no longer allowed to visit him.
``It is an honor for the National Press Club to recognize the inspirational contributions to journalism these two individuals are making,' said Club President Alan Bjerga. ``At a time when openness in government in the United States is threatened and reporters' rights overseas are being trampled, Davis and Goudarzi remind us of the importance of working for a free press in the United States and abroad."
The awards will be presented at a special ceremony at the National Press Club in November.
-- John M. Donnelly; firstname.lastname@example.org