I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all, and particularly to the heroes gathered in this room – the winning nominees for this year’s Fetisov Journalism Awards.
Their work, like that of all the entries submitted for the Awards, has demanded the highest levels of professionalism, independence and courage in reporting. We salute them. They are genuine heroes so please give them a round of applause!
This year marks a special anniversary – it is the fifth year of awards, which we launched in 2019.
Some may argue that it is a short time and certainly it is not long, but look at what happened in these five years.
Across the globe we have endured pandemics, social crises, military conflicts, and economic turbulence. There have been huge losses and many disappointments.
Many worthwhile activities and projects across the spectrum of human endeavour and particularly in journalism and media have suffered.
There have been many bankruptcies and closures. People in journalism have suffered greatly – not just financially, but through psychological and physical pressures.
Despite all of these pressures, the Awards remain focussed on our mission to build respect for the role of trusted media in society by highlighting and paying tribute to world-beating journalism.
As a result, the Awards are growing both in stature and recognition.
Our nominees and everyone competing for the awards are warriors for human rights and democracy. They are very important people for the whole world.
They remind us that humanity must not become a civilization focused only on the showy world of celebrity, entertainment or simply an unruly crowd with no idea of the truth, of what it is and where to find it.
People everywhere are overwhelmed by a torrent of information. And we see the quality of our communications in decline. It is often immoral, unqualified and biased.
It is a swirling vortex of polluted information into which politicians and corporations are pulling all of us. It has the feeling of an apocalyptic struggle between truth and lies.
In this situation of crisis truthful and independent journalism is a beacon, it provides a shining light of professionalism, cool observation, rationality and courage.
It’s no overstatement to say that truth-telling journalism is an expression of sanity in an age where the world appears to be going mad and drowning in lies.
This is my response to those who say that our Awards must be sensitive to the political mainstream.
I disagree with this approach.
Mainstream politicians and corporations and the experts serving them are leading the world to the edge of an abyss. We must not follow them.
In the words of the great philosopher and author Umberto Eco in his last magnificent novel Numero Zero, where he talks about using media as a weapon and the rise of fake news: "We have to stop playing their game."
The Awards are created for independent minds. The Awards are not in the slightest about politics. They are about conscience and truth and as such are a guarantor of justice.
These values tower above politics like granite rocks on the shore while short-term political interests come and go like the tide.
The independence of the Awards is our great strength and it is also the debt that we owe to those journalists who we have lost, often killed by politics and the sycophants.
My mission is a simple one: to honour the best of journalism and to make the Awards a guiding light for everyone to follow on the path towards truth and goodness.
Founder of the Fetisov Journalism Awards